Connections: Spam on Wry

The time had come to do something about it

   Like most of us, I get a lot of spam — from politicians I do approve of, from organizations I don’t approve of, and from merchandisers of everything from country-style window treatments to sketchy-sounding laser-hair treatments. They really were annoying this week, however, when I got back from three days out of town.
    I had taken off thinking it would be nice to have a holiday from the computer. Unlike lots of others, I’ve been satisfied to have a cellphone that does nothing more than make and receive calls. No apps, no e-mails, no thank you. When I got back, though, my Microsoft Mail was full of unwanted missives too numerous to count.
    For months, I’d wondered why the “junk” function on my Mac wasn’t performing its alleged task, that is, putting mail directly into the junk folder when the sources I repeatedly clicked on as spam appeared. With little confidence in being able to adjust the junk “preferences,” and without consulting a guru, I had soldiered on. Until this week, there weren’t that many irritating e-mails each day. Now, however, the time had come to do something about it.
    So began what were hours of opening unwanted e-mails and searching for the tiny word at the bottom saying “unsubscribe.” Even the word “unsubscribe” itself is annoying. How can you unsubscribe to something you never subscribed to? In the once-upon-a-time days of telemarketing, all you had to do to get rid of a solicitation was to say, “No, thank you,” if you were polite, or hang up the phone without saying anything if you were rude. And telemarketers rarely left messages when you were out of town.
    We all know that telemarketing has been all but replaced by e-marketing. I am sure you can get an undergraduate degree these days in the various iterations of the art. But in my attempts to seek solutions to my spam problem I made the mistake of Googlng the word “e-marketing,” and came up with information that I fear one would need a doctorate to understand. Perhaps I am only proving how low down on the Bell curve I am when I admit what I gleaned from the following bit of information: “Facebook [yes, I understand] today started rolling out the new Open Graph [huh?] apps [maybe yes, maybe no] for its Timeline [what?] profile.”
    It is said that you don’t need to know how an engine works in order to drive a car. And you don’t need to understand mathematical theory to add and subtract. But any analogy with the use of a computer fails. I will never understand how a computer works — programming, codes, algorithms, nanotechnology — but I wish someone would at least explain to me how to turn on the ignition and apply the brakes.