Too many people forward more messages – text, image, audio, or video – than they create on their own, many without even the preliminary of attentively reading or watching what they forward. Often the only things people write are ‘good morning’ messages (which some others conveniently and labour-savingly forward as ‘good morning’ images instead). And, the rare images that many people take the trouble to create tend to be selfies. For the rest, electronic exchanges are a seemingly endless torrent of forwards, and emoticons felicitating those forwards, a huge expenditure of bandwidth, time, and effort, with very little edification to show for the trouble. Except perhaps greatly increased tolerance for spam. Sending and receiving forwards for want of something for one’s thumbs to do may seem harmless, but reveals a lack of respect for one’s own time and energy, and certainly those of others. It also suggests acceptance that one cannot come up with anything original that merits transmission.
Forwarding messages can be such an automatic action that some forwarders are surprised to come up against objections to what they’ve forwarded, often disagreement with some fine point: That’s where the lazy injunction “Chill, it’s just a forward!” comes in. This is terrific advice, not for the recipient of these mindless messages, but for the aspirant sender: Chill. It’s just a forward. Don’t send it.