Me love you long time


There 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…)

The 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.

They 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.)

Early 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 ago.

I suppose a few are creative.

I 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**

I’m 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.

I 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.

It 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.

I 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.

Lately 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.)

What 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.

When 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.

Can 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…


Never mind.

I’ve been to Australia. Anyone want to buy some lottery tickets?

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