A year and a half ago, I decided I wanted my very own internet domain name. I suppose it’s the modern version of personalised car number plates. Or wearing your name printed on your underpants if you genuinely are called Calvin Klein.
And that is why I am the proud owner of will-once.com. It is perhaps not surprising that the domain name was free. As far as I am aware, there is not a single person in the whole 7 billion population of the world with the name Will Once. It’s a pen name, a pseudonym, a nom de plume. It’s my superhero identity.
But that is when the weirdness started happening. I was sitting back, luxuriating in my new-found fame and lack of importance when a message popped into my inbox. It was my very first piece of spam – landing within seconds of creating the email address.
And that puzzled me. How did they know my email address in order to be able to send something to me? I had naively thought that it would be like having a telephone number. No-one would know what it was unless I chose to give it to them.
How wrong I was.
Maybe it was my website hosting company. Maybe it’s just the way that the internet works. But somehow someone had got hold of my email address before I had told anyone. Spooky.
Since then the amount of spam has grown steadily. This is not an email address that I use when I fill out online forms. It is only used for talking to people about my writing. And yet it has somehow got onto a list of email addresses that spammers use.
Today I decided to do the housekeeping. I went through my inbox and deleted every single spam email. Somewhere in the region of 6,500 emails.
And yes it felt good. Every press of the delete key felt like crunching a boot heel down on a cockroach. And yet, in a strange King Kong sort of way, I started to feel a little bit of sympathy for the monster. There was a strange kind of poetry and humanity in the middle of all that spam.
It was not so much the spammers that I felt sympathy for. I started to think about the people receiving those emails. Who really wants the stuff that these spam emails are selling? Who are the spamees, the recipients of the spam? We who are about to be spammed salute you.
One thing is clear, spamees have awful windows. And the rest of their house isn’t in brilliant condition either. I’ve had two spams today offering to replace my windows. Another one offering me a garage floor coating … whatever that is. Two offering me home warranties, presumably to pay for the repairs I need to my windows and garage floors.
Not to mention the email offering me “Economical Concrete, Steel and Wood Coating” without actually telling me what they are proposing to coat in concrete, steel and wood. My house? A garage floor? Han Solo? And, no, I’m not going to click on the link in the email to find out more, thank you very much.
Our spamees seem to be getting on a bit. I’m being offered a controversial brain trick to reverse Alzheimer’s, several solutions for tinnitus and a way to regrow thicker, fuller hair. All while being helped to repay my student loan.
Weight loss seems to figure prominently. Apparently kidney beans are clinically proven to help lose weight.
A NASA scientist has discovered an anti wrinkle secret at the bottom of a glacier. That one puzzled me. The scientist might have discovered an anti-wrinkle treatment at the bottom of a glacier, but how can you discover a secret at the bottom of a glacier? Did somebody hide it there?
Sex seems to be a bit of an issue. Our spamees seemingly would like to meet married women. Funnily enough, I meet a married woman every day. Admittedly, she isn’t Russian.
But while our spamees are interested in sex, they don’t seem to be very good at it. They also need lots of Viagra as well as Justyn Barrit’s Mind Control Seduction Technique.
Money seems to be a problem for our spamees. They need help with the taxes and with their debts. They even need to know how to print coupons on toilet paper. Apparently. How exactly do you get toilet paper into a printer?
When we add it all up, the typical spam recipient is old, deaf, fat, bald, poor with erectile dysfunction and draughty windows.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that they find it difficult to get some rumpy pumpy.