I just realised to which extent the ever increasing amount of spam has already led me to develop instant deletion reflexes.
I just deleted today’s Wired News without even looking at the sender, because the subject line begins with “Korean Housewives want…”. Housewives has definitely become a keyword for instant deletion. Just like the the three daily emails trying to tell me that “someone has a crush on me” or those from, eg Mrs. Mariam Mobutu Seseseko with subjects like – Urgent Assistance Needed PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL / Amount: US$ 18 MILLION.
This so called 419-spam, where a complete stranger who received your email address “through a mutual firend” tells you that he/she is a relative/close friend/doctor/pet of the now dead previous strong man of [put sub-saharan country of choice here] who was able to steal zillions of development aid and now needs your account as a laundry shop, seems to have some sort of celebrity status, as this Belgian collector’s website indicates – Google did not find a single collection of spam concerned with erectile dyfunction or breast enlargement.
I wonder if this kind of communication should actually be collected somewhere, if only to document for future generations what happened in our mailboxes in the post-millenium-years. An all-spam-encompassing collection could also help answer the ultimate question behind the phenomenon – how many people do actually react to spam? And why? Sending spam is certainly cheap, but it clearly does cost something: Someone has to be paid for collecting all those email addresses and then handling the sending process. Given the amount of spam I receive every day I have to draw the conclusion that it must somehow be profitable.
Thus, there must be people who pay money for the services promoted by spam.
While I can imagine people being interested in breast or penis enlargments, I have serious difficulties to understand how their interest could be sparked by a spam email or why they would believe that a product/service which is advertised in the cheapest way available could solve their problems. Remember my previous entry about covers that reveal something about the content of a book? Doesn’t a spam cover scream “click on me and I’ll rip you off”? However, its mere existence reveals that demand for those products and services promoted must be attributable to the emails sent out.
One more entry on my list of things that I will never understand.
PS: The Korean housewives simply wanted “a speedy net”. Sometimes looks do deceive, even with respect to spam – but it’s luckily rare.