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8:27pm on Wednesday, 3rd January, 2007:
Having answered the invitation to list five things you don't know about me in a such a way as to leave the person who tagged me feeling as if I've punched him in the face, I guess I ought perhaps to go into some detail...
OK, the first thing to say is that I honestly do not like chain letters. I wasn't just saying that as a joke, I really don't like them. I suppose it's arguable as to whether this "write something then tag other people to do the same" meme (that's another thing you don't know about me, by the way: I don't like the word "meme") actually is a chain letter. Whatever, the thing I don't like about chain letters is the same thing I don't like about this meme.
Some chain letters are obnoxious in their own terms: pyramid schemes, ones preying on superstition, hoaxes, ... These are the ones that get chain letters a bad name, and I guess why Brian might have felt a little alarmed when I used the term to describe his tagging me — it sounded as if I was impugning his integrity (nooooo!).
Some chain letters are very positive, though, and serve useful and important functions. For example, the Samizdat mechanism for distributing subversive news in the Soviet Union was basically a chain letter system. I'd put this "five things you don't know about me" thing into this category: it's helping link blogs together and giving people an excuse to strengthen bonds between them.
The thing is, irrespective of the payload of the — oh, let's call it a chain meme — I don't like them. Well, I don't like receiving them.
Here's why: I get embarrassed.
Chain memes don't just replicate their content (that would make them just a meme), they place obligations. When I'm tagged, I'm under an obligation to respond, otherwise I look a spoilsport. OK, so in this particular case I am a spoilsport, but that's not what bothers me. What bothers me is that I'm supposed to find five other people to tag and place the same obligation on them. I just ... can't do that. It embarrasses me too much to ask people to do things that I myself am reluctant to do. Really, I feel awful about it. I'm placing them under an obligation they didn't ask to be placed under, which involves their doing the same thing to a bunch of their family and friends. Augh! It makes me cringe just thinking about it!
(Long-term QBlog readers may be interested to know that it's a kind of pain very reminiscent of what I feel when faced with practical jokes, although I don't quite know why as there's no malice involved in chain memes).
Now to be fair, when I was tagged for this latest chain meme Brian didn't actually say he was placing me under an obligation. However, given that he wrote his own piece because he'd been "called out" and then called out me, it certainly felt that way.
So Brian thinks he's doing me a favour by bringing me in to the game, only to be rewarded by a blunt refusal. I think I'm being tortured, and that by using the terms of the game to explain why I'm not playing can evade my fate.
Ah, it's from such misunderstandings that life-long vendettas can arise. Just as well that Brian and I are friends..!
(Mind you, I'd never pick an argument with anyone nicknamed Psychochild anyway).
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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (firstname.lastname@example.org).