The term glurge was invented by a regular contributor to Snopes.com, a website dedicated to cataloging and often debunking urban legends. Unfortunately, while the word glurge may be fictional, the phenomenon it describes is not. Glurge is best described as the cloyingly sentimental stories, testimonials and object lessons frequently sent as email or chain letters. Glurge can also be experienced at the end of religious services or motivational speeches, usually in the form of a 'true' example of perseverance against seemingly impossible odds.
There is usually no malicious intent by the sender of glurge, but the messages may not be as inspirational as the sender had hoped. Many examples of glurge tend to collapse under their own weight, as the writer adds one impossible circumstance upon another to drive home the moral of the story. One such example of overwrought glurge concerns a novice mountain climber who loses a contact lens. After asking God for a miraculous recovery of the lens, the mountain climber later discovers an ant carrying the contact lens on its back. The utter implausibility of the story often negates the inspirational impact of glurge.
Some examples of glurge are attributed to famous personalities, although their historical accuracy is often brought into question. The actor John Wayne, for example, is said to have converted to Christianity after receiving a letter from an evangelist's injured daughter. Various political leaders are rumored to have excused themselves from official duties in order to witness for Jesus Christ. While these stories may indeed be inspirational and image-building, they are rarely supported by official records.
This is not to suggest that all glurge is fictional or does not serve a valid purpose. Some of the stories and historical factoids are indeed true and educational, although presented in a maudlin or sentimental writing style. The senders of glurge may be responding to a chain letter-style request to forward the message to others. Many examples of glurge have been circulating around the world for years, including alleged predictions by Nostradamus, as well as the plight of young cancer victims looking for new pen pals or greeting cards.
Most glurge stories are relatively harmless, if a bit over-the-top. These messages rarely contain malicious attachments or solicit the recipients for money. The real problem lies with allowing email acquaintances to forward unsolicited messages through a mass mailing. Some senders may not screen the stories for appropriate content before forwarding, which could create a problem for certain recipients. Unlike email spam, which is usually unsolicited, glurge is often forwarded through a chain of personal address lists, making the original sender virtually impossible to track down.
A number of websites can provide examples of glurge, along with the true facts behind the stories. Many examples of glurge are well-written pieces of inspirational fiction, worthy of repeating as object lessons or motivational anecdotes. It's the blurring of truth and embellishment that can make glurge sound artificial and saccharine.