Spam, the scourge of modern communication, is defined as unwanted and unsolicited electronic communication of a commercial nature. While we recognize spam...
Spam, the scourge of modern communication, is defined as unwanted and unsolicited electronic communication of a commercial nature. While we recognize spam when it appears, it makes sense to broaden its definition in order to understand how insidious the plague has become.
In fact, there are three avenues of spam that ruin our daily lives; arriving through the computer, the mailbox and the telephone. While some differences exist, it may be wise to treat all three as part of a single plague, all that should get the same general treatment.
All three have supposed mechanisms that stop the deluge, ways to remove your name from the list. None of them is foolproof. Even if someone pays attention, another pops up to take its place, like a mushroom. I just manage to fall off of Victoria’s Secret list and Restoration Hardware appears as if by magic. Phone solicitors are generally willing to remove you from their list — they must do so by law — but there are hundreds of such lists and its impossible to keep track.
Another spam prophylactic is the filter, which really doesn’t exist for junk mail. Both electronic mail and phone solicitors can be screened out by these utilities, which invariably inconvenience the legitimate sender. For e-mail, your correspondent must screen you out or allow you in, requiring an electronic handshake. On the phone, you can set up a “no call” filter, telling solicitors to leave you alone and forcing people to punch in their phone number for approval. Again, this doesn’t do a lot to discourage the perpetrators and may inconvenience your friends.
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If you are running a business and rely on calls from strangers who could be clients, it’s counterproductive to throw up any obstacle to communication. For this reason, it’s better to have as few roadblocks as possible.
The way to fight spam — or so they say — is to never buy anything that lands uninvited in your inbox. You can apply this to the stuff that shows up in the mailbox or the people who call while you’re eating. Trouble is, this won’t do much if someone, somewhere doesn’t know how to just say no. The second flaw is that catalogs arrive in your mailbox because sometime back in the past you bought something from them, or from someone who sold your name on a list. For this, the wiser path is to open a post-office box and toss all the junk before you even get in the car.
The most annoying of the three spam varieties is the phone solicitor. I haven’t done anything to invite them recently, but they have multiplied. I always ask them if they are “trying to sell me something.” They say no, but then begin a sideways sales pitch. That they lie gives you the permission to yell, scream and hang up. But the bad news is now I am in a foul mood, and wasn’t before. I got a call from a solicitor at 8:45 on Oct. 26. He began his spiel, but I interrupted.
“Are you aware that the World Series is on?”
“Then why are you calling me?”
“Because … it’s my job?”
His vocal tic told me he wasn’t happy with the situation either. And I recognized the solution. In order to vaccinate ourselves from these parasites is to let them have it with both barrels. When they call, scream, yell and howl; insulting their very being. Take out all the frustration of the invasion of your privacy. Make it so unpleasant that no one will want to work as a phone solicitor, ever again.
It may work. But I suspect that I’m not quite mean enough to pull it off.