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Microsoft word - spamiam.doc

TechWit Column
Archive Submission #:
20
Title:
Spam I Am Jason Ohler 2003
Word length: 651 words
Transmission date:
December 2, 2006
SPAM I AM (Copyright 2003 Jason Ohler)
Today was a seven Viagra day. Not the pill, the spam mail. By
noon I’d received seven mail messages about Viagra, five about
how to lose weight, four about why now was the best time to
refinance my house, three for psychic readings that promised to
unlock my potential, two from mail order bride services from
foreign lands with names that didn’t translate well into english, and
one from an office supply warehouse offering an incredible deal on
bulk purchases of multi-colored file folders. It’s the last one that
really bothers me. I’m pretty thick skinned, but when someone
implies that I don’t keep enough office supplies on hand I really
get steamed.
My informal research suggests that the spam I receive is fairly
typical. Who sends us this stuff? Those with the most to gain by
understanding our weaknesses: advertisers. Why do they send us
this stuff? Simple. Their billions of dollars of research have figured
out that we are basically insecure, crassly overweight, desperately
lonely, sexually dysfunctional, always broke and – worst of all – in
need of file folders. They see it as a win-win situation: they make
money while helping make our lives a little less miserable.
How do they find us? We tell them who we are, what we like and
how to contact us. Every time we click on an icon, fill out a
product registration form, or sign up to hear about the latest in
vacation packages, the greater world of Internet advertising wakes
up and says, “we’ve got a live one!” We invite them into our lives
just by virtue of being curious and trusting. You can look at this as
intrusive, or you can see it as inclusive. After all, if there’s a deal
on Viagra or a vacation package then you’d like to know about it,
wouldn’t you? And if some enterprising vacation company offered
both in a package deal – and threw in a few hundred file folders for
free – well, just think how left out you’d feel if no one told you.
There have been all sorts of efforts to limit spam, but they’re doomed to fail. Like viruses and political contributions, they mutate to fit the environment. Obnoxiously large political campaign donations become Political Action Committee support, which becomes your right as a free American to be heard. Same with spam. You hate it until you get that one spam that tells you something important, like “1000 multi-colored file folders for under a dollar!” Suddenly spam mutates into something even better than advertising: crucial information for discriminating consumers. There are ways to fight back. You can find a bunch of spam prevention methods on the Web. Or you can do what I do: use counter spam. Whenever a spammer sends me an email I fire one back that says, “I have pictures of what you did at the party. Don’t force me to use them.” It’s a threat that works. After all, the only thing more universal than air is the fact that everyone’s done something stupid at a party. Can we say anything positive about spam mail? Yes. It has totally revitalized the market for real Spam, that meat-like stuff packed with slimy jelly in the bright blue metal can that your mom fed you when you were out of baloney. In fact, there’s actually a Spam Kid Chef of the Year Recipe Contest (www.spam.com). The 2005 winner was a Spam and Jam layered sandwich. I’d check the cholesterol count before making it a dietary staple. A recent estimate says that of the 7.3 billion emessages that zing through cyberspace every day, 32 percent of them are spam. But look at the bright side. Thanks to spam’s effectiveness, our problems should be cured soon. In no time we should be thin, emotionally secure, and sexually capable with refinanced houses, unlocked potentials and all the file folders we need. After all, isn’t that what life’s all about?

Source: http://www.learningnetwork.ac.nz/shared/professionalReading/JASOHLSPAMIAM.pdf

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