April 5, 2021 – Enough with the spam already!

When I started my blog, I had no idea that I could be ‘spammed’ on WordPress. I thought all of the comments I received were legitimate. For this reason, I took the time to respond to every single one of them. It’s been quite gratifying hearing from my readers. Each time I read a positive comment, it gives me the extra boost I need to keep at it. We all need a pat on the back once in a while. What I discovered, after doing some investigating, is that not all comments are legit. Some are a bunch of phony-baloney. How did I come to this conclusion? Well, after writing back to several ‘people’ (who had submitted a comment) and requesting their contact info, I never heard a peep. It seemed a bit odd to me that people would reach out and say something really flattering and not respond when I wrote back. Out of sheer curiosity, I decided to look a bit more closely at several of the comments I received from ‘people’ that never answered when I wrote to them. Guess what I noticed? They all have a common trait, each has ‘extraproxy’ or ‘extraproxies’ in their web address.

I don’t get it. Do people just send out these comments to get their jollies? I actually thought WordPress was spam-free, but apparently I was wrong! I cannot get away from the spammers and/or the phishers. If someone isn’t trying a marketing ploy to get me to spend money on their product or service (spamming), they’re trying to steal my money by engaging in ‘phishing’. Spam email means ‘unsolicited bulk mail’ or any kind of unwanted, unsolicited digital communication. That said, I think it’s rather narrow-minded to apply the term exclusively to email. The ‘essence’ of spam is that it’s unsolicited, meaning that no one asked for it. To me, that applies to many different situations (in addition to email). It can come in the form of phone calls, knocks at the door, text messages, ‘snail mail’, all sorts of ways! Regardless of what ‘form’ they show up as, they annoy the hell out of me! If I want something, I will go to the source, I don’t want ‘the source’ coming to me. ‘Spammers’ don’t care what I want. They have an agenda and will go to great lengths to impose their agenda upon me (and you).

Have you ever had those annoying folks (aka solicitors) show up at your door? They are the WORST! If you’re anything like me, you have, and you’re none too happy when they come calling. I call that ‘door to door’ spam. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and people selling magazines (or meat out of the trunk of their car) are the most common offenders in my neighborhood. What kind of spam ‘filter’ do I use on them? I placed a ‘No Soliciting’ sign up in my office window (which faces my front walkway) thinking that would do the trick, but they still show up. They’re so stinking persistent! I’ve considered installing a trip wire at the end of the walkway or digging a moat, but knowing my luck, someone would end up dying as a result of hitting their head on the pavement after tripping on the trip wire or drowning while trying to cross the moat. I really don’t want to end up losing my home after being sued (in either case), so for now (when someone I don’t know rings the doorbell or knocks on the door) I just open up the curtain in my office and point to the no soliciting sign and give the spammer(s) a disapproving look.

When a spammer contacts me via phone, I usually don’t get too worked up because I screen all of my calls. Most of the time it’s someone calling to conduct a survey, or to tell me I won a ‘free vacation’, or to remind me that I need to extend my car’s warranty because, according to them, it is about to expire. It actually expired over three years ago. During election season, I can expect to hear from local politicians or people from one or more of the major political parties. The calls that get me incensed are the ones that use the ‘fear factor’. Realistically, they fall more under the category of ‘phishing’ and usually start out like this, “Please call your local bank (at this number) immediately to approve or deny recent charges to your credit card,” or “A judgment has been placed against you. To avoid arrest, call 888 (fill in the blank),” or “Through an audit, the IRS has discovered that you did not claim all monies earned during the past 3 years. Call 888 (fill in the blank) to avoid fines or imprisonment.” Seriously?! I know better but not everybody does. Inevitably, it’s gullible little old ladies that fall for the ruse (aka my mother).

Most people refer to all of the pamphlets and letters and ‘free offers’ they receive in the mail (courtesy of the United States Postal Service) as ‘junk’ mail, but let’s face it, it’s one of the original forms of ‘spam’. I get so many letters from mortgage, insurance, and cable companies; I don’t even want to think about how many trees have been felled in order to market their products and services! Much of the time, I don’t even bother bringing it inside the house, it goes straight into the recycling bin. Of the insurance companies, Progressive has got to be the most determined and annoying. I know a lot of people think Flo is adorable, but I don’t and I wish I’d stop getting marketing materials from Progressive with her face or body splashed across the front. If the junk mail/spam isn’t from New Day USA, Progressive, or Spectrum, it’s from a local company wanting to replace our windows, paint our home, or install new gutters. I have learned a way to stifle them (fortunately). Sometimes I save the letters, and once I get between 6-10 of them, I return them in a single envelope along with a ‘remove from mailing list’ request. So far, it’s been pretty effective.

Have you ever received spam via text? Oh my goodness, for you folks that engage in this form of spam, you’ve taken it to an all-time low. I heard from the Democratic Party this past weekend via text. They used to only contact me via phone but it seems they’ve branched out. Before the November election, they were ruthless with their texting. I kept blocking the numbers and then they’d just reach out from a different one. In the most recent text, I was asked if I was interested in running for office. For a minute, I thought I was either getting pranked or that they had sent the text to the wrong person. I responded with, “No, thank you. Too many skeletons in the closet.” Undeterred, they wrote back, stated that they totally understood, and then proceeded to ask if I was interested in volunteering. A-ha! I knew there was an agenda!! “No, thanks. Too much on my plate as it is,” I replied. Good grief! There’s no way I’m going to get duped into becoming a spammer. That’s all those volunteers that work for political parties seem to do. If they’re not asking for your vote, they’re asking for a donation.

There are many more forms of ‘spam’, of course. Have you ever walked out of a grocery store, your cart loaded with an assortment of food stuffs, and once you reach your car you discover an advertisement on bright red or bright pink paper tucked under your windshield wiper? Spam! Have you ever ordered products through Avon or Mary Kay, and once they arrive, you notice that several adorable ‘samples’ of lotion, perfume, and/or bubble bath have been included (free of charge)? Spam! How about when you place an order for ‘curbside pickup’ at a local store, and when you arrive home and remove the items from your backseat (or trunk), you discover a delightful little ‘gift bag’ which includes all sorts of ‘goodies’? This particular type of spam I only experienced recently. I picked up an order from Wal-Mart and a ‘gift bag’ of items was included as a bonus. In it were a bunch of samples of food and cereal, as well as a wall charger for ‘plug in air fresheners’. Did I immediately turn around and buy some air fresheners? Absolutely! What was I going to do with an empty wall charger?

Damn spammers! As hard as I try not to, sometimes I fall for their ‘tricks’. Kohl’s got me yesterday. They sent me a 30% off ‘good for the next 24 hours’ code via email and I took the bait. One hundred fifteen dollars later, I clicked on ‘confirm order’. Buyer’s remorse didn’t take long to set in. Did I need any of it? Nope, not at all! I started out with winter boots for me and slippers for my hubby and then I kept going, like a rat in a maze. The only reassurance I have is that once it arrives, I have the ability to return all or some of it (if I choose). I will have to drive two and a half hours to reach the closest store, but I figure I can coordinate it with a trip to visit my mom (and some of my family). It’s so frustrating because I was doing so well as far as not buying things I didn’t need. All it took was for Kohl’s to dangle that little carrot in front of my nose, and I was a goner! Argh. Maybe one of these days I’ll learn, but I’m not making any promises any time soon! Thanks so much for stopping by. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I.

Hope you had a lovely Easter.

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