When I was a kid, I enjoyed getting mail. There was a PBS show called Zoom. Viewers could write in for instructions on how to play the games featured on the program. I enjoyed getting my monthly copy of Highlights magazine. I also remember sending off my Bazooka Joe wrappers and waiting in breathless anticipation for a whistle ring, top, or some other future collectable.
Then there was the joy of ordering from the Sears catalog, and waiting four to six weeks for the big brown truck to come rolling down Drexel avenue!
Back then, getting mail was fun! Now, not so much. No, I’m not talking about bills. In my youth, the mail I received was usually in response to mail that I sent, such as the aforementioned Bazooka Joe correspondence. Now, mail just appears – especially as old school junk mail has evolved into new economy spam. (I know the term ‘new economy’ is about 10 years old, but that was one of my favorite buzzwords from my pre-bursting bubble, high-tech P.R. days!)
Case in point – this ‘letter’ I received from the Vice President of the Research Division, hereby informing me that I am a potential candidate to represent my professional community in the 2010 Edition of (Name really not important) Who’s Who.
POTENTIAL CANDIDATE? You mean I’m not a shoe in! How do I secure my spot? I hope there’s a swimsuit competition because I’m still rocking my Myrtle Beach vacation tan!
Words fall short in describing my feelings over such an honor!
I’m fortunate to enjoy a pretty so-so career and I’m told I’m pretty so-so at what I do, but I ain’t hardly qualified to be in nobody’s Who’s Who – even a bogus one.
But since when does it matter whether or not a piece of spam has any relevance to the recipient? While I’m at it, I am deeply sorry for anyone I spammed during a recent, unfortunate hacking of my Facebook account. (Me giving out iPads? I’m a PC dammit!)
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against thoughtful, accurately targeted direct mail that meets a customer’s needs. In fact, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve had the pleasure of writing a few lines of direct mail copy at various points in my career, so I can’t really hate.
However, in my never-ending efforts to be more productive, this digital constipation has inspired me to engage in a long overdue colonic of my inbox. If it’s a newsletter I’m no longer reading – it’s unsubscribed. If it’s content from something I opted in to and can’t remember why – I’m opting out. If it’s invitation to ‘friend’ someone who I’ve never heard of – it’s deleted!
So as I cinch up my spam filters and eschew the impulse to take a survey from my favorite family restaurant just to get a free appetizer, I’ll be thinking back to happier times of waiting at my mailbox for my Bazooka Joe whistle ring and my new Toughskins Jeans.