I heard once that the Spam company was trying to get people to quit using the term ‘spam’ for unsolicited email. They gave up… ‘spam’ is just too universally accepted as a term for anything that you receive that you don’t really want.
Like a fruitcake, In-Laws, or a drip that requires penicillin.
Or Urban Myths.
You know about the Urban Myths. You get them in email, with the subject line that says “Happy story… forward this to a hundred friends, and make a difference in a little boy’s life, and happy good luck will follow you all your days.”
Little Timmy is dying a slow and painful death from some obscure South American toenail disease he contracted while swimming in the ball pit at McDonalds, and his last wish is for me to send a list of sappy affirmations previously turned down as too saccharine for Hallmark, and not funny enough for Jack Handy, to 10,000 of my closest friends in the next 24 hours, and if I can also see my way to sending him a book of matches from every nudie bar between here and Las Vegas the Doctors in the toenail ward will donate all their earnings to the SPCA to save a blind kitten.
Every day I have five or ten of these waiting for me at my desk, in amongst the real important mail. It won’t quit. We just change the name, change the disease, and it’s a whole new story. Next time, it’s Tommy, not Timmy. It’s ringworm, not toenail rot. We can’t let these stories go. We love the myth. We love the fantasy. We won’t let Timmy die.
And the kicker, the real pisser about this whole thing, the aspect of this that convinces me that I haven’t been nearly careful enough in choosing who I hang out with, is that these are coming to me from my friends. People who say they like me. People who, I’m pretty sure, wouldn’t toilet paper my house or leave bags of burning dog crap on my front stoop, but they send me these things because they really believe these stories. What kind of a moron falls for this crap? What kinds of idiots have got me in their address books, that I continue to receive this kind of drivel?
We never used to have these kinds of problems, back in the dark ages before the Internet. Actually choosing to have a subscription to the National Enquirer was the only way you knew that someone was taking up a collection to buy Wolf Boy plastic surgery. They didn’t just drop by the house and slip it in with the bills in an envelope that had an IRS return address, and if you opened it you were automatically signed up to receive another ten Wolf Boy stories in the mail every day. I never had my privacy jeopardized because a coupon book from the neighborhood Quick-E-Mart arrived in my mailbox, and a midget jumped out, ran in the kitchen, stole my address book and started mailing coupons for hookers and farm sex to all my friends. Not before the email.
Ah, the internet. Brave New World technologies that will turn the old school on its ear, and reinvent the way people interact and share and grow and learn and live and love.
Brave New World my ass.
Well, we may have to stick with the Internet now. Too late to do anything about it, everybody wants it, everybody has to have a website, nobody writes letters any more, nobody makes a damn phone call any more, nobody buys Playboy any more, nobody masturbates in the bathroom any more.
I guess I’ll have to get used to unscrupulous mass-market-mailing companies sending my unsolicited advertisements. I dealt with it in the pre-internet days. I’ll deal with it now.
And I guess we’ll get used to the anarchistic, adolescent sexless computer geeks who get their rocks off writing code that brings small business to its knees so they can have their fifteen minutes of fame among their anarchistic, adolescent sexless computer geek friends, because their computer virus corrupted more flower shop’s address books than their buddy’s computer virus.
But this crap from friends I don’t have to stick with. I want someone to write a computer virus that will automatically remove me from the address books of anyone stupid enough to send me this kind of crap, and make me forget that I ever thought these people were smarter than a bag of doorknobs. A virus that will bring an end to this inane waste of time, and destroy the myth. A virus that will kill Timmy. Let go, little Timmy. Let go! Put me out of your misery!
Death to the little boy with the rotten toenails, that’s what I want. Is that asking so much?
That’s it. That’s all I got.