Who doesn’t love SPAM? Originally produced by Hormel in 1937, the loveable lunch meat travelled with our soldiers into WWII and beyond, winning the war and living on as ‘Hawaiian Steak’ to this day. Why, even still, if you find the means to travel to Hawaii, you will find it on the menu at McDonalds and indeed as ‘SPAM musubi’ at even the finest (well, maybe not the finest) Hawaiian restaurants. Mmmm, SPAM. There’s even a SPAM museum. It’s in Austin (Minnesota, not Texas), and they’ll tell you all about the great pork-ish goodness. And I personally feel that spam.com is one of the best websites out there, no kidding. You should really check it out. But what about the OTHER spam?
Other spam? Like New Jersey’s Taylor Ham, which predated Hormel’s offering by nearly thirty years? Ah yes, life in the days before SPAM. Or maybe you’re thinking about ‘Treet’, SPAM’s evil, cheaper twin?
More likely I am just talking about junk mail, or more specifically junk email. Spam is the scourge, a canker, a true menace, nay, a POX upon us all! It is, with no exaggeration, the worst thing about having internet connectivity. All of the other things out there that may be unsavory or just not quite what I feel like looking at just yet, might be there, but I have to try and find them to an extent, unless my fiends send it to me, which is a LOT like spam. Spam just shows up, unannounced, asking me all sorts of rude personal questions about what I’d like to see larger and how soon. It’s horrible, truly, just how pervasive it is, far worse than the simple flyers and junk mail and even the old school Ed McMahon trying to sell me a magazine schtick (I really didn’t need another year of ‘GRIT’ magazine, but it IS Ed McMahon).
So what to do? If your email address is already receiving spam, well, there’s not a lot you can do. There is no ‘do-not-call’ list for your inbox and there probably won’t be for some time. The worst truth is, that the spam is your fault.
Boooo. Hissss. Sorry, but it is. Remember that time you visited a website about those adorable little dolls you like so much and to get to the article you wanted to read, you had to ‘register’? You gave them a real email address didn’t you? Because you’re a good person, and believe in the decency of others. I believe in the decency of others too, if I can see them with my own eyes, but that’s about as far as it goes. The internet? Nobody’s policing it very well and honesty is by no means a virtue out there. There’s no ‘editor’ and there’s no censor. It’s all you. So make up a fake email address. I do it all the time. Any time that I want something out there, be it information or a link to a file or something that they put just beyond my reach and ask me to ‘register’, I throw them an email address that doesn’t even exist. If the registration requires a valid email address, then I have an email address through yahoo that is junk specific. The only time it gets checked is immediately after i click that register button, and that’s it. Any free email account will do for this, gmail, hotmail, yahoo, etc; they’re all just fine.
Your own email address, the one that you give to family and friends? That’s sacred, no sharing. I go so far as to recommend three email addresses at the minimum for any web faring fellow. One for friends and family, one for internet shopping/online lifestyle, and one for junk. This way, you have one that you check everyday, as it’s likely to contain information you might actually WANT to read. The shopping one is separate, because, like it or not, the people you shop with are going to send you emails, and probably sell your email address to someone else so that they can do the same. But you don’t have to look too closely at this one, unless it’s christmas day and Amazon’s two day shipping takes seven days. By online lifestyle, I’m referring to internet networking sites such as facebook and myspace which send you constant updates that are redundant and ridiculous. The junk one is obvious, we’ll just leave it alone.
But wait Mister Dix, I have a business email address and it’s already getting pummeled with junk mail, what do I do? – Sally, Sandusky, OH
Well Sally, nice to hear from you, there’s plenty that you can do. Filters are the best defense available to everyone. Junk mail filters in Outlook and Outlook Express specifically can be set up to push junk mail around based upon obvious words, phrases and senders. Adding them is a must and it might be tedious to setup, but the drastic reduction in wasted time checking email can be well enjoyed. Mac Mail does a particularly good job of ‘learning’ your junk mail habits and is quite frankly, the best program to receive email in. This isn’t just a Mac fan-boy speaking, it really is remarkable how well it filters once you’ve taught it to respond based upon the messages you receive. Another fine thing that may be available to you is server-side filtering. If you have a website and an associated email, then your host can tell you about this, but essentially, we hosts can block a whole slew of blacklisted IP addresses, reducing dramatically the number of useless emails in the inbox. Another quick tip is this. NEVER OPT-OUT! If you receive an email saying ‘click here to remove yourself from our mailing list’ DO NOT CLICK HERE. That just lets them know that you are alive and received the transmission. Best to just lay low and hope they go away.
Spam accounts for nearly 80% of all emails worldwide and salt makes up over 8% of SPAM’s mass.
I’d repeat that, but you can just go back and read it again for effect if you’d like. The truth is, it might be time to toss that old email address and start fresh, with some new knowledge under you caps and toques. A clean slate is not as hard as it may seem either. A simple email to the people that you care to hear from informing them of your new address is all it takes, and you’ve got that friends and family thing all set up. Save that slightly tarnished one for shopping and the like for now. This way, we can prevent some of that idiocy from ever coming your way.