Partly Truth, Partly Fiction

My spam folder is full. Again.

There’s a photo from Pam and a document from Louella,
neither of whom I know.
The Apple Store wants me to update my information;
PayPal wants me to verify my account information.
The US debt help administration wants to, I don’t know, I’m guessing here,
help me administer my debt.
The FBI wants to get in touch but doesn’t say why. Their agents are, after all,
trained to keep their own counsel.
One writer has the secret to earning 20 years of wages in 29 days, and another offers me a Fast, Easy loan at just 3%, which will help me buy that secret. I love it when things come together like that.
And two organizations have $800,000 for me: the US Department of the Treasury (OK, I sorta get that) and the UN General Assembly (Huh?).

It used to get me down. It was like the high of “You’ve got mail!” followed by the crash of “Bwahaha! It’s spam!” The going up was so not worth the coming down.

But now I’m used to it. So used to it, that my analytical brain is engaged: I’ve started to notice the odd ebbs and flows of spam. I can go a few days, even a week, without seeing any. Then there’s just a trickle: a couple a day for a couple of days. Then it’s boomboomboom, and suddenly my spam folder is full. Again.

How come? I mean, given that there is spam, why doesn’t it come in at a steady rate?  This week the answer came to me in a flash, in the way of all great scientific breakthroughs.

You’ve likely heard about the trash vortex: a waterborne midden of plastic debris out in the Pacific, held together loosely by ocean currents. But some garbage is always breaking free and drifting off, ending up on a beach in Tasmania. Or the Aleutians. Or any point in between. So the flow of garbage onto beaches is steady, but from the perspective of just one of those beaches, some days the waves are clean, some days there’s a sprinkle of garbage, and some days, well, it just pours in. It all depends on the winds and the currents.

Drawing of garbage patches in Pacific Ocean

Print-screen image from National Geographic site

That’s what I figure is happening with spam. Picture, if you will, the internet as a great ocean of whirling electricity, with bits of information bobbing along. Somewhere in those unregulated currents lies a spam vortex — scams phishing for personal information, and offers of sex, money, and sex for money — all floating aimlessly in a jumbled mass of faulty spelling, poor grammar, and weird word order.

Then the currents shift, the wind picks up, and hey presto: my spam folder is full.

It’s kinda cool, I think. Instead of feeling picked on, I can now see the arrival of spam as a signal of my connectedness to all things, or at least to all things internetish. A sign of winds and currents operating beyond my ken, but every once in a while throwing something up on my beach.

What a compelling metaphor/story/theory.

There are just two things wrong with it.

First, the something that ends up in my spam folder is sadly like a rotting fish, which sort of robs the whole explanation of its poetry.

Second, despite its name, the trash vortex isn’t, you know, actual plastic bottles, bags, and fishing lines all floating on the surface in a scummy tangled mess. Rather, it’s microplastic particles that a casual boater might not even notice: one site likened it to plastic confetti, suspended below the surface.

Well, all right then. Time to regroup. Let’s see what I have so far.

If there were an ocean vortex of actual, you know, trash,
then we could see spam as its internet equivalent
and take something interesting and uplifting from that.
But there isn’t.
So we can’t.

I have to admit that it’s not quite as compelling as I had hoped.


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8 Responses to Partly Truth, Partly Fiction

  1. Tom Watson says:

    I’m certainly glad you sorted that all out for me. No more vortex to worry about!
    You’ve done a great service to we email humankind!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – To protect and to serve, that’s us! I’d feel better about the mounds of garbage if I didn’t know that it’s likely more dangerous in this almost invisible but edible form, as it accumulates in animals’ systems.

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    Your theory is brilliant. Insightful. Poetic. Even inspiring. Particularly (that wasn’t intended to be a pun) the part (okay, I think that was intentional) about our universal connectedness. But I’d like to supplement your theory slightly. Perhaps, in addition to that great whirling whorling vortex of trash, we observers are on our own slightly eccentric orbits, like the planets around the sun. Sometimes our orbits keep us far from the spam vortex; sometimes we come closer; sometimes we actually pass through the edges of the, umm, galaxy of trash.
    Jim T

  3. Get a Mac. Their MAIL as my email program.
    I have a “junk” folder, but get — can’t remember the last time… maybe 3-5 a month.
    But was getting 30-40 a day until I unsubscribed
    from (almost) all the US political Democratic sites.

    Seen this? People are trying to do something…

    I picked up, and/or was given, 3,300 objects from the street: I did my bit, eh? After scanning them, I finally gave most of them to Bill Staubi to use in his assemblages. He’s having a show of them this and next weekend at Enriched Bread Artists. Open House.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Yes, I understand that Macs are also subject to fewer viruses. But for my work, it has to be a PC. As for giving away your found objects – good for you! Now you have room to collect something else . . .

      • Yes, I appreciate the PC to PC connection: sometimes my MAC jpgs can’t be recognized by PC hotmail accounts. Much like life connections: sometimes there is just no receptor lock for a key (point).

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Barbara – An excellent analogy. So often people just look at me. Huh? I, of course, never miss anything . . . a universal adaptor/receiver, I. Or not.

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