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Faxlore

From Academic Kids

Achtung!
Alles turisten und nonteknischen lookenpeepers!

Das maschine-kontrol ist nicht für der gefingerpoken und mittengraben! Oderwise ist easy to schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzensparksen.

Der maschine ist diggen bei experten only!

Ist nicht für gewerken bei dummkopfen. Der rubbernecken sightseeren keepen das cottonpicken händer in das pockets.

Zo relaxen und watschen der blinkenlights.

A common example of Faxlore is the pseudo-German variation of the "Blinkenlights" poster

Faxlore is a sort of folklore: an urban legend that is circulated, not by word of mouth, but by fax machine. Xeroxlore is similar material circulated by photocopying.

Some faxlore is relatively harmless. Cartoons and jokes often circulate as faxlore; the poor graphic quality becoming worse with each new person who resends the joke to the next recipient. Because faxlore and xeroxlore is the (mis)appropriation of technology owned by the employer, much humorous faxlore is mildly subversive of the workplace and its values. The somewhat sexist but now semi-traditional lists of reasons "why a cucumber is better than a man" or "why a beer is better than a woman" often circulate as faxlore, as has the well known pseudo-German variations of the "Blinkenlights" poster.

Other sorts of faxlore have had more serious consequences. A number of more notorious urban legends have circulated in faxlore; the notorious "Blue Star Acid" hoax is one well known example; the "lights out" hoax, which claimed that people who were driving in the dark with their headlights out might be gang members, and that those who flashed their headlights at these drivers might be marked for murder as part of a gang initiation, was another hoax that was widely circulated as faxlore. The poor graphic quality of the frequently resent faxes, which often were made out to appear to have originated with the police department of a distant city, only made these hoaxes seem more credible.

In the United States, collections of supposedly sinister symbols have been circulated among school administrators; in the 1980s these symbols were frequently alleged to be "Satanic symbols", and in the 1990s they were alleged to be "gang symbols". Innocuous political or religious symbols, like the peace symbol, the Star of David, the Rosary, the ankh, or the pentagram were mingled with other cryptic or fanciful symbols in these faxed and recirculated sheets, and the entire collection was condemned with the same brush.

On the authority of these anonymous, hard to trace, and impossible to cross-examine sources, school administrators sometimes acted to ban the wearing of Stars of David and similar symbols of minority religions. The incorporation of the symbols of political beliefs and minority religions suggests that at least some instances of this kind of faxlore are deliberate hoaxes with ulterior motives. Sheets of these evil symbols collected by hearsay have occasionally been circulated by local police departments. Typically, no compiler or author is given for the collection of symbols, though frightening descriptions are often given about their "secret meaning." A number of civil liberties lawsuits were filed over misguided actions taken by school administrators who took these anonymous sources seriously.

A similar claim that the Procter & Gamble logo was a "satanic symbol" was linked in the 1980s to the activity of several Amway distributors; Amway is a multi-level marketing operation, and Procter & Gamble's competitor. An occasional hoax with a similar agenda claims that clothing and memorabilia of various universities or sports teams are "gang symbols"; the schools or teams so chosen for opprobrium are usually unpopular with fans of another team. Other times the team is simply very popular in the area, amongst gang members and non-gang members alike.

With the rise of the Internet, email and the World Wide Web now are available to circulate the sort of material that formerly circulated as faxlore. The hoax warnings of dire and terrible computer viruses that still occasionally circulate, carry on one tradition of the bogus cautionary tale that used to circulate as faxlore. Faxlore, however, is not extinct; the fact that a fax that has been copied several times over, and that the original sender is someone the recipient has never heard of, gives certain kinds of friend of a friend tale additional stature and credibility.

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