Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Boggled Mind, Part 2

The other day my friend Gary received an email from the head of the FBI, assuring him that the offer of $8,000,000 he had previously received from the widow of the finance minister of Nigeria was perfectly legitimate, and that he should hasten to claim his windfall. Gary was, of course, terribly impressed and eager to send in his “earnest money”, and the only thing that gave him the slightest pause was the fact that from reading the letter it appeared the head of the FBI had never gone beyond the third grade.

Why does this sort of thing continue to drive me into paroxysms of fury? Because I have no doubt whatsoever that out there in the big world, somewhere, someone is falling for this bullshit.

On returning from work Saturday afternoon, I found no fewer than 27 spam messages waiting for me and, mental masochist that I am, I scanned quickly through them before hitting the “Condemn to the eternal fires of hell” button. I have noted that I am for some reason not getting quite as many “Make her scream with pleasure!” notes. I’d like to say I missed them, but neither you nor I would believe that. There were a couple “Actors/Models/Movie Extras Wanted” offers, and “I Guarantee You $25,000 a month”’s, and I’ve expressed my feelings on those before, many times.

The recent trend seems to be “news” headlines (“Brittany Spears having Obama’s baby”) to lure you into opening the message, which would of course unleash more demons upon you than 10,000 Pandora’s Boxes.

I must confess that I have on occasion been curious as to what does lie beyond the “come-on, open me up....please? Pretty please?” opening words, just to see what the sender is shilling, but I never have and never would.

What lies at the base of my anger with these…I cannot come up with an appropriate word…who perpetrate the billions and billions of spam messages clogging the internet like a backed-up sewer…is the knowledge that these things are not harmless; that there are real human beings, naive, gullible, downright stupid, or mentally impaired though they may be, who believe what these messages tell them. How this can happen, I have no idea. But I am infinitely sad for them. And to realize that the spammers know full well what they are doing…that they are like hyenas at the watering hole hoping to pounce upon the weakest members of the herd…is what drives me to such frenzy.

And the knowledge that there is absolutely nothing I can do, personally, to stop them or even slow them down compounds my frustration. There is nothing worse than the feeling of being utterly helpless to change what so desperately needs to be changed.

So I run around, pointing fingers and trying to get others to see what I see in the way that I see it and hoping against hope that maybe if enough people felt the same way, something positive might happen. I’m not sure what, but anything is better than nothing..

And as for the spammers…we could all get together, round them all up, and offer them the choice between life in solitary confinement and a frontal lobotomy.

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