Tuesday, 12 December 2006
An Old Lady in Meltdown
[A new story, Adjusting to the Limitations of Age, has been posted this morning on Blogher.]
If anyone reading this has written to Crabby Old Lady lately expecting an answer, you’re probably disappointed or, more likely, pissed off. Crabby is at the end of her rope, pulling at her hair, pounding the desk, throwing wadded-up paper at the cat - a deranged, screaming harridan teetering on the edge of her mental precipice.
The reason for her lunatic behavior? For every legitimate email she receives – a message from a friend, blog reader, colleague, subscription newsletter, Google Alert, etc. – there are a minimum now of 50 to 75 pieces of spam. Maybe more. Close to a thousand of them pour one after another - 10, 15, 20, 25 at a time - into her inbox day and night and that’s in addition to the hundreds of spam messages a day Crabby’s email filter catches before they hit her inbox.
Ding, ding, ding goes her email alert every ten minutes like Chinese water torture until, to preserve what’s left of her sanity, Crabby turned off the audio. A cascade of messages pours forth with pornography, financial scams, Hoodia sales (what the hell is Hoodia, Crabby wants to know – on second thought, never mind) and lately, god help Crabby, there are pitches for gifts “just like Oprah buys”.
CRABBY CAN’T STAND IT ANY MORE!!! This is how people are driven to go postal.
Crabby’s spam volume has increased by magnitudes in just the past six or eight weeks. It is so much work now, so vision-blurring, so time-consuming to scour through the spam looking for the real stuff that Crabby has given up. She telephoned her monthly banking and credit services last week to reinstate snailmail delivery of statements because she fears she’ll miss paying her bills for not finding them among the crap in her mailbox.
A few years ago, telemarketing calls reached such monumentally disturbing proportions that the federal government took action. There is now a “do not call” registry and the financial penalties to telemarketers are expensive enough – thousands of dollars per wrongful call – that it works.
But to Crabby Old Lady’s dismay and rage, there can be no such solution to email spam. A little research reveals that most spammers are based in other countries where the U.S. has no jurisdiction. And email filters are useless against messages buried in images which are, Crabby estimates, at least half of the spam she receives.
When telemarketing calls were rampant, at least there was the adrenalin release, when Crabby had been interrupted for the fifth time during dinner, of slamming down the phone. Clicking the “junk” icon doesn’t provide even a smidgen of the same satisfaction.
So where are all the vaunted genius techies now that we need them, Crabby Old Lady wants to know. This has become intolerable.