Give Us this Day Our Daily Spam

Spam is not just a nuisance. It absorbs bandwidth and overwhelms Internet service providers. Corporate tech staffs labor to deploy filtering technology to protect their networks. The cost is now widely estimated (though all such estimates are largely guesswork) at billions of dollars a year. The social costs are immeasurable…
–James Gleick, Ny Times–

All of a sudden, there’s a new public enemy number one on the Internet—spam. Everyone from Microsoft to Earthlink is touting their latest spam-blockers as the best things since broadband. This insidious campaign has actually worked its way into the public consciousness, too. My friends are always complaining about how much spam they get, how cluttered their In Boxes are, and how they can’t get off e-mail lists. My response is always the same—why? Why would you want to miss out on all the great opportunities, products, and services spam brings right to your desktop—and totally free of charge? This has to stop. People just don’t understand how Spam can help them in every facet of their lives. If they don’t wake up soon, the powers that be (read: Bill Gates and the government) will no doubt consign spam to the scrap heap of e-commerce. There’s already talk of a no-spam list in Colorado. Things are getting serious fast.

I know—you are skeptical, but let me demonstrate just how useful and life-changing good spam can be. To help me prove my point, I tracked all my spam for one week. Before we begin, though, let me offer a couple spam tips. You will no doubt want to refer back to these after reading the rest of this article and becoming a spam convert. First, make yourself a separate e-mail account for spam. With all the free e-mail services available this is easy and painless. I use a Hotmail account for my spam. Yes, yes—some spam can be downright embarrassing to read at work (goat sex is probably something you don’t want your boss knowing you are into). The real reason, though, is organization. If you can funnel all your spam into your spam account, you can dedicate your energy to getting the most out of your spam rather than trying to separate your useful spam from the chaff of work or personal notes. Second, you want to try to maximize your spam. To that end, I suggest signing up for as many live instant message and live chat services as you can. I have noted a dramatic increase in spam each time I made an account on a new service (these, too, happily, are free). I currently have accounts with MSN, Yahoo Instant Messenger, AIM, and ICQ. Another great way to increase your spam is to post on web message boards. Your tiny forums with few visitors obviously don’t help much here. Find some big, well-read forums and start posting your spam e-mail address. If you can find forums that actually interest you at the same time, that’s a bonus—but not a necessity. Remember, the point here is to boost your spam intake, not the time you spend reading a web forum.

Now that we’ve established the ground rules, let’s get down to some serious spam. Just what can spam actually do for you? The better question is—what can’t it do for you? Let’s look at what I received just over the course of one week. As a point of departure, let’s start with the most common spam I received—the ever-popular penis enhancement. I know what you are think, and I’ll recite the ever popular “I’ve never had any complaints,” but let’s just make the huge assumption that my wife would appreciate the extra 1-3 inches promised. Presuming this is true and our sex life becomes more demanding, I have just the spam to help me out: Viagra. Two types even—the traditional and an herbal sort. Just what the latter is was unclear from the e-mail, but I’m sure anyone taking the time to advertise it so diligently and profusely must have an impressive product.

Just in case, however, my newly enhanced equipment doesn’t make quite such a favorable impression, I have plenty of options for…ahem—taking matters into my own hands, as it were. Where penis enhancement claimed the top spot for individual spam, the largest category by far is good old-fashioned porn. You name it—somebody’s showing it. In addition to the—er—goat sex, I can choose from web cams, streaming video, and downloadable movies and pictures of horny coeds, lonely housewives, raunchy amateurs—even celebrities. I was never aware of the thriving industry Anna Kournikova, Brittany Spears, and Jennifer Lopez have going with their porn pictures and videos. I was also impressed at how successfully they have kept word of such images out of the mainstream media.

As I am busily downloading whichever flavor of goat—er healthy, completely normal porn that arouses my interest, if I decide my Internet connection just isn’t cutting, I can again turn to spam for help. Several low cost Internet service providers seem only too happy to let me know they’d love my business and offer me great savings in return. At the same time, I’d probably want to pick up some of the anti Big Brother software offered by other vendors. Who needs the government (or the wife) knowing about their proclivities for…completely normal and tastefully produced non-exploitative sexual imagery? Ahem.

Spam does not, however, simply lead you to the land of porn. It also offers you a way out in case you find it too all-consuming. Say, for example, that I become so enamored of a particular web site that I must view it at work. Naturally, this kind of behavior eventually catches up with one (especially since disabling the Big Brother software in the office is quite a trick—even with all the helpful spammers). When it does, termination is generally the first word you will hear from the HR folks. Fear not, though, for spam offers a virtual panoply of new ways for you to make enough money to continue your downloading habits. Sure, for the unimaginative, there are the traditional headhunters out there spamming away. For the enlightened among us, however, the business opportunities range from work at home sales and database entry to lucrative sports jobs and top-secret how-to-become-a-millionaire programs (the details of which—fairly enough—are withheld until you purchase the appropriate books, tapes, etc.).

In the unlikely instance that I am unable to make my fortune through one of these ingenious programs, spam offers still more help. The number of companies offering debt reduction and home refinancing closely rivals those providing the entertainment that landed us in this mess in the first place. But—let’s not dwell on spilt milk. Lets’ instead take comfort in the knowledge that spam will still be there even if these debt alleviation measures prove inadequate.

To that end, let’s focus right in on the real doomsday scenario: I can’t find a job or pay the bills. The bank forecloses on the house. The wife packs up and leaves. Her divorce lawyer socks me for everything I’m worth. I gain 50 pounds in my utter despair. Where can I turn? I think you know the answer. With a few clicks of the mouse, I can get an online PhD, buy weight loss pills, find a new mate from Russia or the Philippines, restore my finances with some shrewd online gambling, and use my newfound wealth to buy repossessed cars and houses—many happily donated by other spam converts like myself to keep the cycle running smoothly. And they want to ban spam. I’m sure by now I’ve convinced you of the shortsightedness of those efforts. Make sure you do your part by supporting these noble spammers (I refer you to paragraph two, above, for a refresher) and fighting these alarming efforts at reining them in. Now if I could just find someone that sells goats online…