Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One man’s humble attempt to rid the world of junk

Part of my job here at the newspaper is determining which of the emails I receive are useful and important and which of them are terrible and pointless. If I had to put a ballpark figure on it, I would say that 96 percent of the emails I get fall into the latter category.

Email has been around long enough that we as a society have simply accepted junk email for what it is. It’s considered not even worth our time to ponder the unimaginable pointlessness of it all. Junk email has become a necessary evil that people just deal with. Dare I have the gall to say: Let us not do that anymore.

I’m not talking about junk email in the sense of, you purchased an item on Overstock and mistakenly forgot to unclick the box that reads “Send me updates and offers!” and everyday you receive 800 emails from Overstock and all attempts to unsubscribe from the email list only seem to feed it and make it angrier until your inbox is flooded with coupon offers and you have to completely change your email address just escape, only … they still find you. No, I’m not talking about that. Nor am I talking about the junk that tells you you’re junk isn’t big enough. I’m talking about when you receive an email that it literally written in Japanese.

Every other day I receive an email that is in Japanese. When I click on it just so I can delete it, I get a pop-up box that reads, “Would you like to install the translator program?” Yes, definitely. I would like to install yet another program on my hard drive so that I can read this email, which is obviously relevant to me since it was sent in Japanese. It’s probably an old friend of mine from Japan, where I have never been, telling me about a very important thing I should I know about my job at the newspaper here in the U.S. All of this is worth my time and attention.

But at least emails in Japanese are obvious junk. My duties here at the newspaper include placing classified ads, which has opened up an entirely new level of junk email. These are emails that can range from absurdly weird to vicious attempts to advertise using stolen credit card info. It is my job to determine which emails are real and which are junk. Here is a hint: they are all junk. (Note: If you are a real person and I’ve failed to place your classified ad, my bad.)

To wit:

Hello, Please i will like to Run A Personal Assistant Ad on your next issued Paper and Online.I Should have call you before sending you an e-mail but am deaf That's why am using this medium email to make my Inquiry.please  get back to me as soon as possible. 

I enjoy the implication that email is mainly for deaf people. Clever appeal to my softer side, spambot, but I don’t think being unable to hear adversely affects punctuation and capitalization.

Emails such as this go out en masse to our whole office, so my co-workers, thinking, “Oh, this deaf person email must be Mike’s,” forward it to me. I received that fake email 20 times.

I don’t have time for this. And honestly—what is junk email? Where does it come from and what does it mean and why does it exist? More importantly, it should not exist. I am on a one-man crusade to end junk email for good. I am doing this by featuring junk emails I receive on my blog and making fun of them. Hopefully, whoever is responsible for junk email will notice this, feel embarrassed and ashamed, and stop. And please, I am not a hero. Well, kind of. Anyway, if you’d like to join me, stop by the blog or send me your best junk, so to speak.

Note: This column appears in the 7/26 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/27 issue of the Peoria Times.

2 comments:

Bill said...

Godspeed my friend, in this good fight!

mkenny59 said...

Thank you, my friend! With the support of you and, like ... me, we can definitely stop this infinitely complex system of weirdness, from which the source is unknown!