Nepali Times
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Atest message group-emailed last month by a picture gallery snowballed into a gigantic internet tsunami with everyone pressing 'Reply All' and contributing to chaos in cyberspace that resembled the real-life chaos of Nepal.

Thankfully it's over and we no longer receive hundreds of messages each day. I didn't mind, as some were amusing, such as this esoteric contribution:

"We are being tested by the gods. Gods or aliens - it is all the same. Someone has decided to ping. We are all now awakened. No doubt, instructions will follow. This test message - what has become of us that we are spooked so easily? What is this test message? This test message, maybe it is love? Maybe Fulfillment? Maybe the test is simple Faith itself?
Test, again.
more pleasure.
Meaning. Love? Love.
More testing is required !!!"

As the days continued, 're: test mail' became a kind of blog. If you're like me, who receives a mere one or two emails per day, imagine the sheer delight when you read, 'Receiving list of messages from server', to be followed by, '1 of 157'. Wow, at last, I've been discovered.

But most responses were boring, with nothing more to offer than 'PLEASE STOP', or 'DELETE ME FROM YOUR LIST - NOW !' or 'WHAY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?' always in capitals, to denote a degree of urgency.

Others indicated confusion and lack of IT knowledge, 'What the f-ing h-l is going on?', or more politely put, 'What is this test mail all about?'. Some deserved more attention before deleting, such as the one from a Mr AM, who apparently was not amused. 'Any further test mails from YOU will be interpreted as INVITATION with my hooligans to your place'. I was so frightened I immediately ran a full scan, restored my system files and fed the dog.

Not all messages were easy to understand, but somehow were still valuable contributions to the ongoing email melee. There was even a gruesome photograph of a man incinerated in the Maoist attack in Beni together with a mysterious caption: 'See this attachment photo, which I have in my calculation about old Nepal". Credit goes to a Mr K for this excellent portrayal of an internet user besieged by unwanted emails.

Just as the blog was really hotting up it suddenly stopped. Damn, no more 're: test messages', except for one, a charming apology from a Mr T who had previously sent a rather heavy missive that had unnecessarily strayed into xenophobic diatribe about foreigners and their artistic pursuits.

'I really like to apologis for the racist nad completely unwarrented remarks I made resently. I was and remain a competent arse. I donot know why I write such letters. Clerly I am both mad, iliterat and have my trowsers down. I am very very sorry. Humble pies are me".

This guy has a sense of humour (or has an urgent need for a dictionary). However the experience was interesting on a different level. It would appear that many of those who responded have not yet understood the difference between 'reply' and 'reply all', and towards the end nobody seemed to care and would willingly perpetuate the problem for the sake of informing all that they didn't want to be part of it. And this despite frequent messages clearly stating that to 'reply all' would merely generate more mail, not to mention hundreds of failure notices from defunct email addresses still on the list.

If nobody had replied to that innocuous initial mail, 'as my email is not working . i am try to send', the whole can of internet worms (and possibly viruses) would not have happened. But a Mr R could not resist. Without knowing the terrible consequences, he politely enquired, 'Can I know what is this mail about?'. That was the beginning.

There must be an interesting psychological experiment that explores this sheep-like tendency of self interest. The fact that the problem got worse as it went on is a sad reflection on the Nepali psyche, if not the state of affairs in Nepal, and in part explains the prevailing chaos that inflicts the country.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)