I was minding my own business the other day, looking for someone's email address in my contacts list, when I accidently clicked on the wrong icon and stumbled headlong into a world I hadn't visited in a long, long time.
It was a strange sort of place, filled with outlandish and bizarre things that baffled the mind and tried the soul.
No it wasn't hell. Nor was it Oz, Wonderland or even the Kewanee Hog Days carnival.
It was my spam folder.
For those few among you who are unfamiliar with the cyber-definition of a word normally used to describe a mysterious spiced meat product, spam is the online version of junk mail, sometimes appearing on commercial websites, social media sites, cell phones and, especially, email.
Now, I know there's nothing new about spam. Unsolicited bulk email messages from desperate Nigerian princes and lonely Ukrainian maidens have pretty much been around as long as the internet itself. But thanks to the efficient filtering techniques employed on my behalf by gmail, I hardly ever see the stuff anymore, as it automatically gets marked as the junk it generally is, and then deleted after awhile. I suspect that's the case with most email providers nowadays, but, apparently, the offers and inducements just keep rolling in anyway, just in case there's still some sucker willing to believe he just won the Latvian lottery.
While I would have probably never gone there on my own, my visit to my spam-land was not unlike stumbling into a dark, dusty attic or a damp, dank cellar. That is, you don't really want to be there, but once you are, it's hard to resist poking around in a few corners. In my case, I was a little startled to discover all the friends I have. For instance, Mrs. Maria M.A. Victor is anxious to give me a million and a half bucks for "the good work of the Lord," while Watson Thomas has a special business proposition for me if I'll just get back to him. My buddy Michael Williamson needs some help transferring a large sum of money, while good old Cleone Silva de Lima contacted me with the astonishing news that I've won the Publishers Clearinghouse Lottery. Both my friend Liu Tsai Zhang and my other friend, Vladimir Oleg, are anxious to partner up with me to collect unclaimed funds at their respective foreign banks, while good old Mr. Davi has made repeated attempts to contact me about the over seven million dollars waiting for me in his hometown of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. And, of course, it's not just all about money. I received a helpful offer to assist me with an attempted security breach of my credit card and a notification of a FexEx package waiting for me, and I discovered important messages from both the FBI and the CIA.
I never knew I was so important. Or popular and attractive, even, as evidenced by the panting plethora of pills, potions and proposed partners that are, apparently, wholeheartedly dedicated to a part of my life that I've always considered, well, kind of private.
Then I thought about it. I thought about all that stuff that lies buried in that spam folder. Stuff like insincerity and greed and dishonesty and lust and a whole bunch of other unattractive thoughts, ideas and qualities.
And it occurred to me that those are often the very same things that I, like most of us, usually try my best not to get caught up in or involved with. And that's when I realized that a spam folder--a place to both put 'em and delete 'em--is a pretty nice thing to have. On the internet, and in life, too.
Almost like a brain.
Almost like a conscience.
You know what i mean?