Spam, spam, it’s been around so long I forget where the name came from. Oh yes, the semi-fake ham in a can that Monty Python served up in their 1970 Spam Sketch. That was 43 years ago, 33 years after Hormel invented their “spiced ham.”
I don’t eat spam anymore, but I feel as if I’m being force fed the online kind. It’s everywhere. No sooner do my gastric bypass filters get rid of some spam when more arrives.
Turning on my computer and logging into other worlds, I hold my breath. The Internet is slightly slower today because the spam creators and the spam fighters are battling it out, star wars in cyberspace. But soon the new spam arrives in my little computer world – by email and morphed into ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google (maybe a cousin of spam, like deviled ham?).
My email spam has evolved from earlier messages urging me to increase the size and performance of my penis and accept the lottery winnings in Nigeria. I guess they’re permanently relegated to the cyber dust bin.
So now some new and strange ones are sneaking through. Some in French! “Bonjour madam …” Porquoi? Is it because I’ve browsed Tahiti? Are all the bored Parisian marketers tired of their long lunches?
Messages from friends, supposedly through Facebook or Linked In. “Maryann has endorsed you.” Really? The real Maryann, or the web robot? What am I supposed to do with this information? Endorse back in a mutual endorsement frenzy?
Messages from strangers …
“Hey Stranger, a friend of mine told me I could find someone like you in the area for a discrete meeting …”
“Hey cutie, I’d love to meet you.”
“Hello from BOOBS!”
“I’ve lost my pussy! Can you help me?” I don’t know what to tell her. I haven’t seen it and I don’t care to.
Suddenly ads on my Google search and Facebook pages. I’m looking for something I’m researching or reading through political rants or photos of food and someone’s dinner and there will be an ad. Movies with flying or fighting characters. Pest removal, with bugs that scurry across the screen. (The first time this happened I, a bugphobe, almost had a heart attack.) Lotteries with bouncing balls. Peanut butter. And for Spam, of course, since I researched Spam for this essay.
It’s getting so I’m feeling bombarded with a cacaphoneous kalaidescope of colors and sounds. If they were 3-D, they’d be punching me silly instead of merely turnng my brain and eyeballs into tilt-a-whirls.
I know this is all part of the new marketing strategies using social media. As a marketing copywriter, I’m guilty myself of trying to optimize web copy using words that search engines will pick up. And in my own blog, the web powers that be grab some of my words and link them to ads.
The upside of all this targeting marketing and information gathering is that we often do see ads that provide helpful information. While we can protect ourselves with certain privacy settings and filters, we can’t expect total isolation unless we go offline. As long as we use computers, we are fair game.
Are these new hunter gatherers like the drones of the cyberworld? And how many messages do they have to bombard us with before our computers explode?