was this commercial airing several months back. The company running
it and the message itself aren’t really important for our discussion
here. Instead, the central concept it’s built around is what we’ll
be working with. A man is using the computer, gets a message,
and he is really excited as he shouts out to his wife that he
won the Australian lottery. She calls back asking when he ever
went to Australia or played their national lottery. (I believe
the message is something along the lines of things that seem too
good to be true generally are. Anyway…)
e-mails come pouring in every day around here. Dozens upon dozens
upon hundreds of them. Literally. At one time I counted over 3,000
pieces of junk e-mail arriving in under three weeks. Absolutely
none of them remotely interest me. But the thing about them that
stuns me… that central concept I mentioned a moment ago… is that
apparently, they do interest some people. There are people
out there that, if news reports are to be believed, get dragged
in by these schemes. And I’m surprised because, as a point of
reference, none of them are even as funny or creative as an Australian
lottery e-mail commercial.
come with spelling errors. They arrive from impossible sources.
They are loaded with approaches and tactics and stories that shouldn’t
have any conceivable chance of working. (Or… am I wrong… and all
of you do buy your drugs from people that cut and paste blurry
pictures of pill names and costs into an e-mail that has no other
text or explanation, just a blind hyperlink. If so… my bad… though
I would still suggest you think twice before responding to any
more with credit card information.)
last summer I decided to keep count of the e-mails I got. I added
them up as I discarded them. By the time I stopped, I had received…
literally… over 12,000 e-mails regarding crap in under three months.
Even in March of last year, when the web site went completely
down for a while, by the I finally got things straightened out
that time I wound up with those 3,000 pieces I mentioned a moment
suppose a few are creative.
mean… you have to hand it to the people that send something out
like “here’s the story I told you about” with a link under it.
“The simpler, the better” is never a bad rule. I mean, we all
know we shouldn’t trust an e-mail or a link we get from people
we don’t know. Right? So there is no reason we should even consider
trying the link. Delete it. Get rid of it. Now! But maybe you
are lulled to sleep. “Oh yeah… that story they told me about!”
you think. **click**
willing to bet that at some point… maybe in the past few days,
but definitely this year… one of your lazy friends has sent you
an e-mail that fits this description: Instead of cleaning it up
so it appeared as fresh and new and from them when it arrived…
they left a string of names and e-mail addresses scrolling for
miles down the page until you finally got to the joke. Or… better
yet… they sent you something with an attachment. And when you
opened that attachment, there was an attachment from the person
that had sent it to them. And so you open the second attachment
and get another e-mail with another attachment. And you open that
attachment and the next attachment to find another attachment
that leads to an attachment.
delete them these days. All of them. Don’t even read them. If
you couldn’t take the time to cut and paste it into a new window
then it obviously couldn’t be so important that I have to wade
through five attachments to get to it. Buh-bye.
took me a while though to get that frustrated with them. And for
some of you… well… you’re not that frustrated yet and still open
them. Hence… “here’s the story I told you about” with a link under
it… and tactics like those probably work. The main point is valid…
we all get them, and some fall for them. Again… of course it’s
possible that one of our lazy friends just forwarded along this
link to us, and that maybe one of the less tech-aware people thinks
the link is legitimate.
show a few of them to Terry before deleting them. I want her to
understand exactly what kind of competition she’s dealing with
for my attention. Always better to be in demand goes the thinking.
Keep her on her toes.
I’ve been getting them by the dozens from young, lonely women
in foreign countries that found my e-mail address and they want
to know if I’d like to talk. (They so kindly remind me that I
sent my address to them but now don’t return their letters. Apparently,
I don’t love them any more. And they are sad. Some day, in a moment
of self-realization provided by an alternate universe, I’m going
to find out I’ve lived a much more interesting life in my younger
days than I recall.)
I want to know is… who are the people falling for these crappy
gimmicks? Haven’t we established… even for the biggest blockheads
in our communities… that you should always question the source
and never trust something you don’t recognize? Ok… fine… I do
get it… sure… some people around us need help. They aren’t aware
of the world flashing past them and how dangerous it can be. But
in many ways this is just another example of a greater problem.
I show Terry those e-mails from European babes looking for my
attention, she laughs. Then she tells me that if I don’t want
to mow the lawn, and think I can do better, I should e-mail them
back. As she leaves the room, I finish deleting them and start
wandering down the stairs to fetch the laundry.
it get worse? Sure it can. The scariest part for me? When friends
pretend to know better, but forward this crap along with “it can’t
hurt” or some other amazingly stupid comment attached. And…
been to Australia. Anyone want to buy some lottery tickets?