An ad promoting a trip to Glacier National Park

Do you get tired of unsolicited emails clogging your inbox with offers of everything from Viagra to sure-fire stocks to a 20 percent share of Sister Fatima from Nigeria’s unexpected $20 million inheritance?

Spam has been around for so long that we’ve gotten used to it, learned to deal with it, and probably don’t think about it as much as we used to. Some of use “junk” filters to weed out spam, but those just shift email into accounts that still have to be checked and cleaned out periodically, lest something good accidentally get included. Some of us let our service provider sort the email for us, and others (typically on business accounts) subscribe to a service like Postini that pulls out suspect email. It’s a chore.

As if that were not enough, spammers have also figured out some automated system for leaving comments on blog sites, advertising their wares in the space that should be dedicated to legitimate comments on the blog. Blog spammers are home free on blogs whose authors don’t screen comments, and simply create a royal headache for those of us who do. On an average day, I can get up to a dozen bogus comments that have to be dealt with, interrupting whatever task I’m about. On Blogger, at least, the problem has become so severe that the service has shifted from two screening options (“publish” or “reject”) to three: publish, delete, or “mark as spam.” The page doesn’t really say what happens when you mark something as spam — I’ve been doing it, but the same sort of messages keep showing up.

Dealing with spam is one of those areas where a utility designed to save time and make your life easier can be hijacked by folks who steal back some of the time you’d been saving. That can be frustrating.

It amazes me that anyone ever clicks on the links in those spam messages, but what they have in common is that they all appeal — however crudely — to human desires for more money, better sex, or bargain prices.

The temptation to pursue “more” has been around since the beginning, and I suppose it will be with us as long as we inhabit the earth. I just wonder how long it would have taken Adam and Eve to click on the link, and whether we’re likely to hold out any longer . . .

[Image from http://1greengeneration.elementsintime.com/?p=1044]

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