Spam

Spam
I like spam!  Slice it and throw it on the grill for a few minutes, baste it with barbecue sauce and it’s delicious!  Serve it on a bun with a slice of pineapple that you also heat on the grill and you’ve got yourself a tasty lunch.

Then there’s the other kind of spam.  The kind that the "spam filter" is supposed to stop but doesn’t. It’s the electronic equivalent of junk mail.  Webster defines it as "unsolicited usually commercial e-mail sent to a large number of addresses."  Unless you’ve never sent an email, your name and email address are on the lists that spammers use.  The more you use email, the more spam you’re going to receive.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have no objection to someone trying to make an honest living.  If there’s a new product or service that I can use, I want to know about it.  Over the years I’ve sent a lot of "commercial email to a large number of addresses."  The problem is the stuff you get that holds no interest for you whatsoever.

Prior to the Internet, the United States Postal Service was the only way to send direct advertising messages, and it was relatively expensive.  You had production costs, paper costs, and postage costs.   Mailers were more particular about where they sent their message because  it was wasteful and expensive to send  messages about the latest garden tractor to people who live in high-rise apartments.

With the advent of email, the cost per contact is nearly zero.  As long as there’s a possibility that a breathing human being will receive the message, there’s no good reason to cull the list.  That’s why it’s not unusual to get the same spam message several times.  Your name is on more than one list.

In a never-ending quest to bring you the latest information for this blog, I’m subscribed to literally dozens of blogs and email alerts.  Every time I give someone my email address, it’s another chance for my name to get on another list.  Even this blog gets an occasional spam comment.  Of course every spam email is supposed to contain an "unsubscribe" link.  Unfortunately unscrupulous spammers not only ignore the request, but use it as an indication that they have a good address, which they promptly put up for sale. 

I’m thinking about spam today because of one particular email I got this morning.  "Congratulations!" it said.  "You’ve been chosen to receive a FREE subscription to Reinforced Plastics magazine.  Wow!  Free!  It must be my lucky day! 

Isn’t it ironic that a dead-tree magazine uses spam email to build up its subscriber list?  I’m not particularly dissing "Reinforced Plastics".  I’m sure it’s a fine magazine and if I had any interest in plastics, reinforced or otherwise, I’d be happy to get it. I get similar messages almost every day from some magazine or other.  My biggest concern, and it happened today when I deleted this particular email, is that I may accidentally delete something important.  When the spam messages outnumber the legitimate ones by about ten to one, it’s very easy to hit the delete key one two many times.

What’s the solution?  I wish I knew.  The lesson for today is to be careful about who you give your email address to and be careful what you delete.

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