All the world is spam

The other day, I saw a TedTalk about spam. At least, I think it was a TedTalk. It was on YouTube so it could have just been a random YouTube video. Regardless, it was a talk about spam. Specifically, the kind of spam where someone informs you they have to transfer a huge sum of money and need your help to do so. The fellow giving the talk described how instead of deleting the email outright, he engaged with the spammer, soliciting some funny responses from his would-be thief.

Yesterday, after posting the cover of Lauren Buekes Zoo City, I recalled that a few of the characters in that book were exactly those kind of spammers. It got me thinking about how spam has changed over the years.

In the 90s, spam was fairly innocent. I remember getting a lot of chain letters. While I can’t ever remember getting a chain letter in real life (yes, that’s where they started), they were immediately recognized for the byte-wasters they are.

The oughts brought us all those foreign princes with lots of money to get rid of. This is also when internet hoaxes and urban legends blossomed like fungi on overripe fruit. This decade also birthed Rickrolling. (Rick Astley’s video has been watched over 196 million times.)

This decade seems to be infiltrated by the fake pharmaceutical companies and you can’t wade onto any social media platform without getting a little GIF spam smeared on your pant cuffs.

Mind you, through it all, two types of spam are perennially popular: unwanted products/services and porn. Those have been a constant and, I imagine, will be with us a million years from now when the last computer circuit disintegrates into dust.

But let’s be honest. All forms of spam will never go away.

Yesterday afternoon, I got a nice letter from Dr Park Lee Sung, a Korean, Chief Medical Director attach to His Highness Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, The Emir of Kuwait, who said, and I quote:

During one of his [His Highness] oil businesses with the West, which I helped him to coordinate, I made the sum of $10,500,000.00 and deposited it with an escrow account with Emirates Bank Dubai. I am contacting you now to help me receive the funds in our country for investment, where you will take 45%, while 50% for myself and 5% to any charity of your choice. But you have to keep this project secret and private to yourself, and please get back to me with your details, so that I will inform you what to do next. Waiting to hear from you, Thanks, you need to act very fast to this, i have little time to handle this [sic]

Until next time, stay spam-free.


4 thoughts on “All the world is spam

  1. I got one recently: “Greetings, how are doing today? I don’t know if you’re aware that am presently in (Turkey) I was robbed of my cash, phones and credit cards last night but i thank God no lives were lost. I need you to lend me some money, about $2,950, or whatever you can afford. I need the money to settle bills here and get back home. I assure you that i’ll refund the money immediately am home tomorrow.”

    I haven’t heard back yet … Maybe it was because I only sent $2000.

    My favorite spam ever was on my blog – a spammy link, followed by: “Is pleased with himself, he completed a jigsaw puzzle in six months as well as the box stated 2-4 years.” If all spam was amusing I wouldn’t want all spammers to suffer as much.

    1. Ha! That is funny. I’ve always been tempted to respond, but imagine it would go into some black hole. Either that or the spammers would somehow infiltrate my system (like they haven’t already).

  2. It’s been at least a couple of years since I’ve gotten any email spam. I guess those Gmail filters really work. Now if only the phone companies would develop similar filters (I don’t answer the calls and I keep blocking the numbers, but the calls keep coming).

  3. The one stewarty mentioned is also going around with the twist of it being a relative robbed and stranded overseas, and needing money to get home. Somehow these thieves are getting details on people and then calling and claiming to be the stranded nephew/niece/whatever and people are forking over the cash.

    Naturally when I heard from my favorite uncle in West Africa that I was his sole heir, I knew immediately that it was legit and my millions should be in the bank any day now…

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