To forward? or not to forward?
I'm not sure I need to say this but forwarding important work emails to the right people so that work can continue smoothly is a given. The "work forward," as long as it pertains to work, is acceptable. There is, however, something that needs to said here. As with "replying to all," one should always refrain from forwarding a work email which contains personal remarks that could be damaging and have absolutely nothing to do with efficient business. Making damaging personal remarks is also not very good manners, and there is no reason for those kind of remarks to be included in a work email in the first place. And even if you didn't write them, forwarding them is still impolite.
The "civic group forward" and the "religious group forward" are also within reason as long as each will ensure that someone is kept in the loop and not accidentally excluded.
Stop, Drop, and Roll Your Mouse Away from the Forward Button
Now to the "friend forward." Even I am smitten by the occasional kitten, but I have a few tips on how to make sure the right people get to see said kitten without having to shut down their current email account on account of me.
Each time you consider forwarding something take the time to consider two things. First, will this person really enjoy what I am sending? And second, does this person have time to read what I am sending? Some of the most powerful emails can be those that take about 5 minutes to read. However, your friend might be busy with a work deadline or a science project when they receive this email from you. Knowing what a wonderful friend you are, they quickly open the email to find that they spent so much time reading your forward they missed their deadline and were so stressed out they never even made it to the part of the email where you're supposed to cry! And then nobody wins!
If you're forwarding just to forward, remove that button from your tool bar until you can bring yourself to consider why you would like this person to have this information in the first place.