Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ghost Chain Letters

In my generation, most chain letters were sent through the mail--some were passed around at schools. 

The goal of a chain letter is to scare people into sending them on, to five or six friends. They always stated that if the receiver did not do this, bad luck or something worse would befall the person who broke the chain. 

Today these chain letters are sent through social media, such as Facebook. They often are sent in text messages or emails. 

It is stated chain letters are just for fun. But the truth of the matter is they play on people’s superstitions. Some even threaten death. This form of “entertainment’ has become so prevalent that some of the more creative letters are now folklore, or have become notorious Urban Legends.

One type of chain letter is the Ghost Chain Letter. This particular type of letter is harmful. The ghost chain letter always threatens a ghost will kill or “take the recipients soul.” if the message is not passed on. 

Considering that most chain letters are sent to young adults and children, this practice becomes more insidious in nature. The following is an example of a chain letter in its purest form:

A short ghost chain letter is entitled, Ghost Under Bed. This chain letter is a newer version of a chain letter, in that it relies upon a picture to enhance the fear it is meant to convey. 

Images used in chain letters is a modern twist since they can be sent through emails, etc. Ghost Under Bed has reached Urban Legend status.

The recipient receives a letter with a picture that depicts a ghost hiding under a person’s hospital bed. It is stated this person was injured in an accident that caused the death of another female. 

The threat is if it is not sent on to at least five people, the ghost of this dead person will track the receiver down and kill them. Then traditionally, an example is given, of how a person who ignored the letter was murdered by this ghost.

The following is a classic Ghost Chain Letter that is passed around by high school students--it is entitled, Carmen Winstead

This story is about a 17-year-old high school student who has the misfortune of being pushed down a sewer by a group of mean female classmates. It is during a school fire drill when she is pushed, her neck hits a ladder in the drain, and she dies. 

Her classmates’ later state that it was an accident, she tripped and fell. The police never discover the truth.

This message can have psychological consequences because it tells teens that their situation is hopeless. * That the wrong people always win. 

This chain letter goes on to state that the only revenge this murdered girl has is to come back and kill others. A traditional threat is then issued that if the receiver does not pass this letter on-- this murdered girl’s ghost will come back and also push them down the sewer.

An even more disturbing Ghost Chain Letter is sent to children via modern technology. This one is entitled, The Smith Sisters. The reader of this tale is encouraged to send it to all their friends. 

It is not a traditional chain letter per se, but a tale about a young boy named John who sends Ghost Chain letters because he loves to scare people on the net. This story states that John enjoyed his hobby so much he even starts sending chain letters to strangers.

One night in 2007 he received a letter back from two young strangers that called themselves the Smith Sisters. They claimed that they were his two older siblings. 

John, an only child, emailed them back that they were liars. They then informed him that they had once lived in the house where he lived. Again he responded that they were lying.

After this, the girls sent him an email with two attachments. The first he finds disturbing because it was a picture of them standing in what obviously was his bedroom. They informed him that his room was once theirs. 

The second attachment was a newspaper clipping. This article mentioned how two sisters, Lisa 19 and Sarah 14, had been murdered in their bedroom while their parents were out. Gory details--like “no one heard their screams” are always included.

When their parents returned home, they found their daughters' bodies hidden in their bedroom closet. The sisters emailed John once more stating they really wanted him to know they were actually his sisters. 

They were angry that their parents had decided to start a new family after their deaths--the two were mad that the parents had not informed John that they had once had two other children.

He emailed them back that it was all lies. He then told them to leave him alone. Within five minutes, he was told that he should look in his closet. This was the last email the police read--they were never able to trace the sisters. 

This aspect makes the story even scarier. The police did find two strange carvings in the bedroom closet near the floor. The first read, “Lisa and Sarah 1993”, the second, “John 2007”. John was never found.

Chain letter' “threats” are disturbing, especially when they are sent to children. The Smith Sisters letter is disturbing in that it tells children-- sending threatening chain letters is fun. But this tale is not entertaining. 

Some claim chain letters are just entertainment with a cautionary tale attached. Admittedly, some are very creative but their underlying message is very deceptive.

Break the Chain
A cautionary note --fraudulent chain letters are sent out to adults all the time. These are illegal. Just two types include "games of chance" or a chance to win a lottery--both promise financial gain if the recipients send them on to friends. These are actually pyramid schemes.

*  Considering social media has provided means for teens to harass and bully others--which sometimes results in suicide makes one wonder if chain letters should be taken lightly.

1 comment:

Leona Joan said...

I love reading about ghost folklore and all things ghostly and about mysteries of the unknown, etc., but I've never like chain letters because I think their intent is rather sinister, especially when they're sent to vulnerable and naive children and teenagers. I have always ignored and/deleted/thrown them away. Thanks for the interesting article. The story about John and the two Smith sisters is really scary!