In the words of Graham Chapman (as Mrs. Bun), “I DON’T LIKE SPAM!”
Almost every time I check this blog, I have comments to moderate. It’s almost always Spam. I don’t want to play Texas Hold ‘Em online. I don’t want to buy Hoodia (or any other pharmaceuticals, for that matter) online. I don’t want to see whatever that is in Japanese you’re telling me about. (I don’t read Japanese, but I suspect these aren’t ads for a Godzilla movie.) I have Spam filters in place. I have addresses and IPs blocked, but of course the Spammers change E-mail addresses and IP addresses like our six-year-old changes outfits.
The term “Spam”, as it refers to the cyberspace phenomenon described above, has little to do with the convenient (if less than delicious) packaged meat product from the good people at Hormel. It comes from the Monty Python sketch referenced above, where a café features a menu on which almost everything contains copious amounts of gratuitous Spam, such as “Spam, Egg, Spam, Spam, Bacon and Spam” and “Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Baked Beans, Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam.”
The real problem with cyber-Spam is that there’s no psychologically satisfying way to retaliate. I once knew of someone who kept an air horn by the phone for telemarketers (this was before the do not call list). I had another friend who would just scream really loudly into the phone and hang up. I’m not advocating such actions, but they give the participants a feeling of empowerment: a feeling that there is something (however ill-mannered and/or cruel) that they can do to “get back” at the telemarketers. You can’t do that with Spam. The worst thing you can do is to E-mail them back, because then they know they’ve got an active E-mail address, and they’ll hit you even more.
All you can do is hit the “delete” button. But that seems so pitiful. That can’t be compared in any way to blasting an air horn into the phone, or even to hanging up on a telemarketer. It’s more akin to letting the answering machine get it. There’s no closure.
I wish there were a way to send a cyber-Howler to Spammers.