Friday, July 3, 2009

Rafa says WHAT? Spam

Since the creation of the amazingly versatile world wide web that soon came to be known as the Internet, two things have been an almost certainty: Trojan viruses and spam mail. In this case, though, we will be familiarizing ourselves with spam mail. Everyone knows what to expect in the subject line--a smart phrase about God, someone insinuating you cannot please anyone with your small penis, or the telltale "Fw:" symbol being repeated ad infinitum. Yes...these things haunt our every day. Assuming the message is not deleted immediately and has been sent by one of your friends, inside is a lengthy description that is sure to turn what used to be slight curiosity into complete disinterest and an overall feeling of stupidity for actually opening the blasted message. We have all come across it...and now, I will provide the information and tools to fight back.

We will begin with regular not-sent-by-friends spam. These messages often include things like offers from companies saying you have been victorious in a competition you never entered and have won a whole lot of money in some random country that you never knew existed, or a continuous attempt at selling you an unnecessary amount of penis enlargement pills/treatments. Often creating high levels of embarrassment for the person that receives them, these spam emails are highly annoying, yet there is no escaping them. The following course of action is for those that are smart enough not to be fooled into believing that they might be rich in a country that ends in -istan or that their penis is the size of a cocktail sausage: spam the spammers. They send you hundreds of emails that end with "Do not reply to this message", but I believe that one needs to ignore this. Simply forward them the same message they sent you. Maybe if we all spam the spammers, they will see the error of their ways.

Second, let's accept that some of our friends could be considered spammers. We have all opened our email and read that telltale headline that begins with "Fw:", debated weather to open it, and hated the fact that we eventually did. Normally, one of two things composes the bulk of the message: a story about someone that died or a story about God. The story of the person that died normally entails a curse or a catch for not forwarding the message and is structured somewhat like so:

[insert name] was [insert age] when [he/she] got this same message. [he/she] didn't think much of it and deleted it. [insert variable timeframe], when [he/she] was going to bed, [he/she] didn't know what was about to happen. Suddenly, [insert any scary, fictitious, gory, ghostly, ghastly, horrible, ect. figure you may know] appeared and, with a [insert murder weapon (preferably blood covered) here], he [insert killing method here] him to death. If you don't want the same to happen to you, you have to send this message to [insert random number] friends in [insert variable timeframe].

Honestly, writing it like that makes one of these spam emails look more like a section off of a Mad Libs book. It's usually aimed at superstitious people that will believe anything...and I mean anything. If your friend sends you one of such messages, feel free to respond with anything from a "you're gullible" or "do you actually believe that??" to any number of curse words or your own made up, crackpot story about a murder. It's as easy as filling in the blanks.

God has recently been the topic of many spam messages. It's sad that our religious friends have sunken to the level of a Jehovah’s Witness or a Televangelist. The spam message is not as complex and fear inspiring as the one with death and killing in it, but it is still equally as annoying. Normally, it begins as a nice message: a poem...a joke perhaps? Then, after the message has sufficiently tricked you into believing it might be like a greeting card, it pops that one word that just makes you sigh and shake your head: God. It then proceeds to tell you to thank him for the previous statements as they are His work and then gives you more messages of peace, love, and worship, which repeat His name a couple hundred more times.

After what seems like an eternity, they offer you something unprecedented--a catch. Usually, the message tells you that in order to receive the aforementioned blessings from the Almighty, you must first...forward the email to your friends. My question is: since when has God needed you to forward an email to bless you? No, scratch that. When did God decide to bless through email? It's remarkable really. It is my expert opinion that the people that send you these types of messages will never cease. Therefore, you must do your part and either send the message back to the original spammer or delete it. If you choose to send it back, here's some advice: the person that sent you a death threat should receive a re-written one with an even crazier story (as I offered before) and the one that pretended to send you Gods message via email should get a link to my blog. They should all learn.

Spammers, no matter what we do, will continue to escape the email filters and send messages to our inboxes. Whether it's a crackpot story, a false accusation, or a conditional blessing, as we open our emails, we are filled with apprehension about which we might find. I'm not asking people to go to the extremes of copy pasting the whole message about God in a new email, writing in font 72 the words "God does not exist!" and sending it to the spammer. What I represent is the group of people seeking to educate the spammers. It is the beginning of spammer rehab. If that doesn't work...we will have to openly declare war.

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