More and more people are arguing we should consider outlawing spam, leading me to think that more and more people should try to find something better to do. I think their well-intentioned efforts may end up killing the goose that laid the safely enlarged, inexpensive, partner-satisfying, lower-interest rate, free preview, available- without-a-prescription golden egg. Here’s my reasoning: We have succeeded economically because of our free enterprise system. The free enterprise system is based on competition. Competition is based on giving consumers choices and showing them the advantages of one choice over another.
Showing them those advantages often means using advertising, a small part of which is spam. Advertising pays my salary. Therefore, persons opposed to spam are anti-free-enterprise communists who are trying to starve me.
Advertising is so pervasive that I don’t understand why we would want to single out spam as something to ban.
Where I live, restaurants and bars post ads in restrooms. And in men’s restrooms, these ads are often placed in locations where you may be standing for a minute, with nowhere to look but straight ahead at an ad giving you important consumer information on lawyers who handle drunk-driving arrests and doctors who perform hair-replacement. But do people talk about out-lawing these ads? No.
Elevators are a new and popular location for advertising. The Wall Street Journal reported, “Architects and interior designers are searching hard for something to offer [in elevators] besides the old notices of passenger maximums, weight capacity and inspection certificates. Little TV screens illuminate hundreds of elevators, many flashing headlines and commercials.”
But is public indignation aroused? No. My mail carrier delivers lots of commercial mail daily to my mailbox, including an estimated 4.2 million pizza coupons yearly. Do I threaten her? Of course not. Even the stadium where I watch football games has three adhesive ads on every beverage holder in front of every seat in the stadium. But have I stopped drinking beer? No!
So I don’t think it’s such a big deal that you get 200 or 300 pieces of spam daily. If you are opposed to spam, don’t try to have it prohibited. Respond to it. Here I offer myself as a selfless example.
I received an email from someone named Sunday Diko, who touched my heart with her story about how her family was in a refugee camp in Ghana. The Dikos could achieve their freedom only if I would take US$15,000 to an agent in Amsterdam, who would then give the money to a bank that would release the safe-deposit box containing the Diko family fortune. For this I would be rewarded handsomely, and the Dikos would be free from the refugee camp, where inmates subsist on little more than insects and easy access to the internet.
For more than a month, I corresponded with Sunday Diko, patiently explaining how I was raising the funds for her freedom by secretly selling my wife’s fake jewellery to a defrocked gemmologist, then funnelling the funds to a bookie who would place bets for me on an underground ferret race in Cuba. With those winnings, I would have enough gas money to drive from my home in America to Amsterdam, assuming I could get a visa.
As the correspondence dragged on, I perceived a certain impatience on Sunday’s part, culminating in her pledge never to write to me again.
I realise many of you may not be as amiable or as chatty as I am. You may not be willing to engage persons in lengthy correspondence, or to respond to companies promising enlargement of certain of your body’s organs by sending them photographs of organs that are already absurdly impressive.
But outlaw spam? I think it’s best just to ignore it. That seems to be working for Sunday.
Dan Danbom is a US-based columnist and freelance business writer.
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