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I remember the first spam email that I ever saw. It was in the early 1980s. Everyone in the office crowded around to see it, and we all laughed at the ridiculousness of it. “MAKE MONEY FAST” it promised.

A copy was printed and stuck on the notice-board in reception, and visitors would see it, read it and laugh.

One of our staffers decided to make additional mockery of it, and sent out a spam email of his own, offering penis-enlargement. On reflection that was a bad idea. He received responses.

Sometimes I wonder if he started the whole penis-enlargement spam thing.

Here’s a lesson: It doesn’t actually matter how audacious and ridiculous it seems, because spam is a series of disconnected events.

Allow me to elucidate.

Some years prior to this, I knew a spammer. Not an online spammer, not a junk-mail spammer. An in-person spammer.

He was a rather unpleasant laddie, with a reputation for success with the ladies. He also had a reputation as a particularly substandard and unsatisfying lover, but that didn’t diminish his sexual successes any, because of his spamming ways.

His approach was simple. He’d simply walk up to a girl in the street and ask “Do you f**k?”

Well, you can imagine the reactions. Some would swear at him. Some would just walk away. Some would slap him in the face. Some would laugh at him, before doing one of these other things.

But every single day he found someone who responded positively.

You see, his … well, let’s call her his ‘victim’, would interpret his approach as confident, assured, and possibly also as flattering. She had no way of knowing that he’d made the same proposition to twenty or thirty other girls that day so far. From her perspective, he’d seen her, liked her and approached her with aplomb and confidence, and she responded to that.

If she’d known just how he went about marketing himself, it’s unlikely that she would have responded positively.

The online spammer offers you some form of goods or service, out of the blue. It actually doesn’t really matter if they even have any goods or services such as they describe. Whether or not they do, the important part is that they get your payment information, and charge you, whether or not you get something in return.

As a series of disconnected events, spam emails don’t need to be successful very often. One in a hundred … One in a thousand … Even one in a million, that’s enough for a tidy profit, and possibly several such per day. Especially if you don’t actually have anything to sell.

You’ve found your girl – so to speak – and she’s given you what you wanted. You don’t have to worry about satisfying her, because tomorrow there will be another.

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Categories: Culture, Opinion.

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