What I’ve Learned From Spam (Both Kinds)


There was a time when Spam was just gross, pre-chewed meat in a can. It was survival food, something to be tolerated and consumed almost against one’s will. Okay, in discussing this version of Spam, I’m revealing that I’m older than the internet, but stay with me. I’m working on a metaphor here.

Enter internet/email spam. The more platforms and new forms of media we’ve created, the more different kinds of spam have oozed in. Like its canned predecessor, internet spam is disgusting, devoid of taste or class, an eyesore among meatier, more nutritious options. However, like my predecessors, who made peace with having to co-exist with protein that jiggles, I am choosing to take my spam in the form of teachable moments. Just as said predecessors would have preferred to have steak or rack of lamb, I would much prefer to have real comments on my blog (hint, hint), and real messages in my inbox. Just as spam-sufferers of the past dressed up their mess of pre-chewed meat with pineapple, fried eggs, and various condiments, I am making a silk purse out of a pig’s ear (see what I did with the pork theme?).

Here are suggestions for deep thoughts that one may glean from online sludge:

  • I will not send my bank account information to an exiled prince in a faraway nation. I will, however, take note of the fact that there are others in need of my help, both in faraway nations, and in my own backyard.
  • I am not in the market for a mail-order bride or questionable photos of underage women. Nonetheless, I will remind myself that even in 2016, my fellow females are still considered by many to be property to be sold and traded.
  • I do not need knock-off athletic shoes in mass quantities. But I do need to put the runners sitting idly in the front hallway on my feet, and walk my desk-chair-decrepit body around the block more often.
  • I will not be requiring assistance in monetizing my social media feeds. Regardless, I will remember that what I do for a living has value, and that I deserve to derive benefit from the hours I put into my work.
  • I shall not absentmindedly hit delete or block, even though the vast majority of what rolls in isn’t even generated by another human being. Instead, I will seek the useful needles in the haystack, the small bits that actually mean something. Doing so will make me a more critical, discerning thinker, and man, will it ever train me to scan effectively!

When you think about it, Spam is actually kind of funny, sublime in its ridiculousness. The canned stuff seems to be the rubber chicken, hand-buzzer, whoopie cushion version of nutrition. The online stuff is also pretty much clown shoes, a reminder of the great stupidity of which human beings are capable when handed a useful tool. Just imagine what future civilizations will think of us when they did up our email accounts thousands of years from now.

Perhaps spam, whether in canned form, or as electronic pestering, is the universe’s way of asking us to be patient. We turn the key on the ham substitute with the hope that better days with real ham will follow. Online, we sigh as we empty our trash folder, or banish an unwanted message with deletion, in the hopes that an actual message, one intended just for us, will fill its spot.

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