About Me

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Geoffrey T. Muhoozi is a Ugandan trained Public Relations Practitioner and Journalist. He Studied at Makerere University Kampala and read Mass Communication with a bias in Public Relations. In between the course, he studied the Art of Public Speaking. He joined Uganda’s Leading Daily, The New Vision during his second year and practiced journalism till he left for The United Kingdom.In the UK, he persued an NCC International Diploma in Computing at London College of Business Studies and Computing. He went on to do a Masters Degree in Business Administration [MBA]specialsing in Marketing. In spite of being in The United Kingdom, he still contributes for The New Vision and The Sunday Vision newspapers when time allows.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Enough of those forwarded emails

I know for sure there was a time in my life when I enjoyed forwarded emails. Any email. That was when I had just got an email account and counted how many mails I received. That was then.
Now we have busy schedules and countless emails to sift through daily. The excitement of finding an inbox full of forwarded emails has waned immensely.

Forwarding emails without checking to see the contents or which category of recipients it’s intended for can be calamitous. Okay, near calamitous.

Take my friend Lisa for instance who spent a whole day wanting to spill her guts out because it had dawned on her that she had accidentally forwarded a link to a job-advertising website, to her boss. She had clicked on the “forward” button and clicked on the “send to all” button which included her boss’s email as well.

The day dragged, Lisa called her council of advisors (unfortunately I’m one of the honoured) for advice on whether she should pack her files and wait for the “suspended” or “dismissed” word for letting her boss know she still looks for other job opportunities.

Advice ranged from her resigning to her pretending it wasn’t her who sent it. Her torment kept growing when there was no fire coming from where she expected.

More calls for advice ensued, more free advice to confuse her followed. She bumped into her boss in the corridor later that afternoon and was tormented even further when he breezed past her in a rush. Her torment had now grown several heads.

As a result she had an extremely unproductive day: heart palpitations, procrastinating, wallowing in self-pity, self-bashing and serious advice seeking. The ending to all that torment was beyond Lisa’s comprehension or that of her council of advisors. Before leaving office at the end of the day, the council advised her to pop by her boss’s office.

And so she did, to say goodbye and see what was taking him long to give her hell. She found him typing an email and was surprised that he was in a cheery mood and even laughing at himself for his pick-a-key-after-three-minutes typing speed. He told her he was glad she came in because she at least understood “these machines”.
He also wanted help with the email she had sent him.

I would love to know how high Lisa’s stomach somersaulted at that particular moment. An Internet and computer newbie, the boss told her he saw her email in his junk mail and was not sure if it was junk or real and didn’t know what he was supposed to do. Lisa is a lucky girl.

Who has to throw us a party soon. She also has a fast brain when it wills itself. It did this time and she launched into a lecture about spy ware, viruses, hackers and how most of all these are out to penetrate one’s personal details stored on their computers with the aim of causing malicious damage.

It made him uncomfortable and in reflex action they changed seats as she took him through the process of how to reduce junk emails by reporting them as “spam”. She then showed and made him a “safe list” so that emails of contacts he wants to keep in touch with don’t go to the junk folder.

The final touch was when she finally went to the junk mail folder, selected “delete all” and emptied the trash folder while re-assuring him she would re-send her email, it as not urgent.

Lisa’s luck was that her boss was lost in his quest to, trudge this world of “webs so wide” as he always put it, in reference to the World Wide Web. Not all of us have soap-opera luck like Lisa though.

While still at school, I remember waiting for my friend to attend a lecture so we could go home together. To pass the time, I decided to check my mail at their Internet lab.

Imagine opening this email with no subject line only to be greeted by automated full screen photos of nude women in compromising positions… I felt pricking stares on my back and when I turned to look was met with a myriad of faces: harsh ones, disappointed ones, disgusted ones.

I hadn’t had my cherry on the cake yet: it came in form of a visibly shaken lab attendant who politely advised me not to open such websites, “we don’t mind how students enjoy their time on the net but you see we have other users…and your kind of websites bring pop-ups and viruses…”

My clearly audible defence that I was not a porn fanatic and that I was also perplexed at how it popped up fell on shaken-till-closed ears too.
Nothing went in any of the ears I intended the message for, so I neatly gathered my belongings and majestically walked out of the lab in all the grandeur of Lady Pervert.

I never again took that path and was glad my classes were on another end of the campus. It was then that I vowed not to read any emails with no subject lines and this was after raising my junk mail filter level not to accept any dubious emails in my inbox. Did I mention how the culprit who sent that mail laughed himself to stitches?

He found the whole incident so “cool” and wished he had been there to see it all happen. Fiascos like this can be avoided when one reports or marks unrecognisable email or messages as spam mail. This means it’s junk, unwanted mail and won’t get delivered to your inbox. Or better still, set their junk mail filters to levels they are comfortable with.

I have done that with hotmail and I’m not an authority on whether other email providers have that service. But at least they have a junk email control service.

Then there are the chain letters. These are forwarded emails which take the reader through a journey of names and email addresses such that by the time one reaches the desired message, one has already decided it’s time to get off the Internet and do something else.

Sometimes after scrolling for five minutes to the message you realise it is the same message you have received now for the twelfth time. One such kind is the rotating ball of friendship email which rotates around emails faster than Venus on its axis and within one week has come back to you several times.

But at least these are no-harm forwards meant to cheer up one’s day or inspire them. There are those threatening ones which tug at one’s conscience until one has no choice but to resend. They go, “If you don’t forward this, something bad will happen to you, in five minutes after reading this you will get bad luck, or bad luck will befall you for seven years”. Honestly.

If you are the kind of person who persistently sends forwarded emails of almost everything that comes your way like jokes, wedding meetings, prayers, luck charms and the like, don’t be surprised or angry when you find that your colleagues have blocked email coming from you.
You probably deserve it.