Nautilus

Why Won’t This Inspirational Email Chain Letter Leave Me Alone?

A few times each year, a particular chain letter pops up in my inbox. “We’re starting a collective, constructive, and hopefully uplifting exchange,” it starts, exhorting me to send a “favorite text / verse / meditation” to a previous participant in the chain, and to forward the message to another 20 friends. In my personal social circles, chain emails (“FW: FW: RE: funny!”) largely died out some time in the 2000s. But I first received this message in February 2014—the oldest example I can find online dates from just the same time—and it has gatecrashed my inbox at fairly regular intervals in the three years since.

“Seldom does anyone drop out because we all need new ideas and inspiration,” it

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