April 14, 2020– As I write today’s date, I muse that if we were still in the Old Normal, we would be freaking out about the typical April 15 tax deadline. Many people would have spent last weekend feverishly seeking to get their shizz together and ready to submit. I remember when people lined up at the post office to get their returns postmarked by the 15th. Another great thing about online services! That must’ve been a bonafide nightmare. (yet another example how last-minute living never fails to slip the Stress Goggles on you)
So now instead of the post office, we line up in super long lines just to get into Trader Joe’s. (I have not succumbed to that activity yet, we can just live without our favorite TJ’s items for now)
I hope you enjoyed my blog post about some things in the New Normal that ring very Old School…I have another one to add to the list.
CHAIN LETTERS. They’re back. Like a bad rash.
I was a teenager in the 80s, y’all, and yes, chain letters came my way, in real, actual paper form! It was like someone had handed me a bowling ball and said, “Don’t let this drop!! You will ‘break the chain’ and upset the time-space continuum!” Back then, before Gretchen Rubin ever taught me what my tendency was, my obliger wiring kicked right in and I sought to keep that dang chain going…and it wasn’t so easy to go make 10 paper copies either.
I do remember using my mom’s 80s home office copier (I was lucky she had one being that she was a full-time genealogist! We can save that for another blog post) I doubt if if I even asked her, but instead bled the cartridges dry and probably accidentally used her nice business stationery.
But the chain was at stake! Honestly, I was so afraid of that BAD LUCK that was darkly promised at the end of the letter if I didn’t comply! I might have even lost sleep or forgone homework to get those 10 dang letters printed, in envelopes and mailed! Yes, mailed! (you HAD to mail them so people couldn’t flat-out refuse them to your face, right??)
Funnily, I don’t even remember what those chain letters even contained! It’s bringing up decades-old stress as I type this.
Wait, now I remember one of them! It was a chain letter for PANTIES!!! True story: I actually mailed a NEW pair of undies to some complete stranger with unwavering faith and excitement that I would be receiving 10 pairs in the mail. Oh, Ryan…
As you’d expect, I received zero panties for my efforts. Who are these people that could ignore the talisman, the monkey’s paw, of Chain Letter Duty? So much bad luck they MUST have received, along with those random knickers I sent way back in the day…
Back to 2020. The Spring of 2020.
I have received 2 kinds of chain letters since the Earth closed a month ago: (1) the ubiquitous “send someone a recipe” chain email, and, (2) “support small biz owners by following their social media accounts.” Let’s discuss.
I have received the former (the recipe request) from no less than 5 people: people that I know, of course, people that assume I cook, people that I liked hearing from because I knew they were alive and well and emailing. But honestly, and I’m saying it right here to the whole world:
I, Ryan Leary Lanier, broke the chain. Every time. Yep. (maybe I learned something from the underwear incident?)
However, the latter chain letter made me feel more inspired to pass along. As a small biz owner who also would love a boost in Likes/Follows, I sent it to some people. But then I started to feel silly. And I had one person smartly reply, “I’d love to follow yours, but I’m not really comfortable following some rando biz for no real reason.”
Oh, the glory of that statement!! I respected them on a whole new level. (Clearly not an obliger! Likely a questioner. Fist bump!)
The moral of this story? How about writing a letter or email or text to a real person who is lonely or that you just love and want to connect with. Chain letters are really just a back-door attempt at connection. They don’t work and actually waste your good energy that could’ve been used to just directly text, email, call, or write someone for real. Start a conversation! Send love! You won’t regret that energy expenditure.
(And if you find yourself mailing panties to a stranger, seek help.)