Archive for Thursday, December 3, 2009

One man’s junk mail…

December 3, 2009

The Internet is a wonderful tool. A voyage into cyberspace can turn up all sorts of interesting and useful information. You can look up a recipe, or shop for Christmas gifts, stay in touch with family members or look up old friends and acquaintances, check your bank balance, perform any number of beneficial tasks.

If that is your wont, you can also get up to a certain amount of mischief.

Of course, it’s a two-way street. If you can reach out to merchants and other organizations, the other side of the coin is they can also reach out to you. And do they ever.

We all are bombarded with e-mails from companies that want to sell us things — usually, firms we’ve bought something from in the past. The spam is less burdensome than it was before I retired — thanks in large part to fairly aggressive spam filters that I think are part of my computer operating system – but I still have to clear out 20 or so messages a day.

Most of the commercial stuff is computer-generated, but we get several messages a day from friends. I have one friend in particular who sends me sometimes as many as three or four messages a day with interesting photos or other tidbits he’s found in his — er, research, if that’s the term.

Here’s one example, a purported excerpt from a cat’s diary:

“Day 983 of my captivity. My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.

“They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.

“In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

“Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a ‘good little hunter’ I am.

“Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow — but at the top of the stairs.

“I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released — and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now...”

You get the picture. I don’t know where he finds this stuff, or how he finds the time to search for it, but every day, regular as clockwork, several messages show up in my inbox.

In truth, I’ve come to look forward to receiving them, because they’re usually interesting and frequently downright funny.

Of course that’s not all that comes in over the electronic transom. We’ve all got people — sometimes friends, often family members — within our sphere who feel duty-bound to e-mail us the latest political screed or diatribe. And then of course we all get uplifting biblical or religious messages.

In the end, I guess it’s all part of being connected, and of taking the bitter with the sweet, which is another way of saying it’s just life in the 21st century. I’d rather not have to spend time deleting all the junk e-mail, but I don’t think I’d be willing to give up the few gems that show up amid all the dross.

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— John Beal is the retired editor of the Eudora News’ sister publications The Shawnee Dispatch and Bonner Springs Chieftain.

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