A Take On Chain Letters


Safia Khan & Zaynab Rehman

Chain letters are back, and are just as annoying as before.

Safia Khan

If you ask your parents, they likely used to receive chain letters, messages sent to a huge number of people asking each recipient to make copies and forward them to as many other people as they can (bullguard.com). In the age of social media, chain letters have made their way to social platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat and the posts are infuriating. 

Chain letters’ existence has its roots in pyramid schemes, something that the postal service made illegal in 1899 (slated.com). Yes, pyramid schemes have been around for that long. While pyramid schemes via mailed letters have died out, its remnants linger on social media. Posts that urge others to “like” or repost or else they’re a racist or a supporter of rape are jarring. The tone of content such as this is juvenile, middle school-esque, and above all, performative. These posts don’t do anything to support the cause that’s being spoken about. People who post stickers and posts urging others to boost, swipe up, or repost on their stories are using a serious topic for clout. Those who engage in such activity are doing it for selfish reasons such as inflating their ego from the engagement they receive on these posts. 

Examples of the modern equivalent of chain letters are social media posts containing statements such as these: “Repost this or you’ll die within seven days.” “If you would stay up with your boyfriend/girlfriend to stop them from committing suicide, repost this.” “If you’re against rape, swipe up.” And the more recent and migraine inducing, the 1 for 36 “massive book exchange.” The list goes on. I thought I would escape this tomfoolery once I left middle school. I still get these posts sent to me and I always have the same reaction: a blank, open mouth look of utter confusion as I wonder why the people who send me this can’t see how performative and reminiscent of a pyramid scheme it is. The fact that I witness grown adults embarrass themselves like this on their social media makes me wonder if there are parts of childhood that never truly leave someone. What I want to say to the people who post content such as this on their Instagram and Snapchat Story pertaining to pressing issues is, “so you want praise for being against rape and shaming others for not reposting your posts on their stories to prove their disapproval of a violation such as this? Guess what? NOBODY agrees with rape but CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’RE SO AMAZING!” Being against something as egregious and horrific as rape and suicide is apparently revolutionary and needs to be presented on social media. The bar is on the floor. Posts such as these are dripping with manipulation and are either guilt tripping or scaring someone in order to make them do whatever action is being asked of them. 

Chain letters through social platforms are disturbing and childish. It’s human nature to share things but at some point, this all gets tiring and I seriously question how some people use their social media without thinking. Chain letters aren’t going away anytime soon so when encountered with its posts, I will simply have to grit my teeth and swipe to the next story.