What exactly is spam? I remember when it was most known for that weird fake ham that I once was made to eat on a dare after several rounds of tequila. I'm not sure if it was the spam or the partaking of it post-tequila, but it was rather nauseating. In the cyberworld, "spam" seems to refer to any kind of unwanted email, especially if it's sent by someone you don't know. We have spam filters to, hopefully, catch and filter out the unwanted stuff. Somehow, I'm now getting hundreds of messages in my personal email [SPAM] folder. I rarely even look at them. Based on the one-line eye-catcher I can see without opening them, they look like a bunch of nonsense. Often, of course, they're ads, but more often, they seem like words strung together without meaning...partial sentences. I must have left my email address on some cyber-toilet-stall and now I'm getting all kinds of undesirable solicitations.
Some people refer to all those jokes, chain letters, inspirational letters, prayers, warnings, photos, and various other emails that end with "send this to everyone in your email address book", "spam". I admit, I get a little annoyed with having my inbox filled with this because I'm always compelled to have to read it, JUST IN CASE, it's particularly amusing, enlightening, or tells me that I've just won the lottery. Of course, once I made the mistake of believing that I might actually win an iPod simply by taking a survey...probably the culprit behind the huge influx of spam I'm now receiving. And I must say to the authors of those things that tell you to just send it on and "you'll see why": You LIE! But, when I get an email from a friend, even if it is one of those silly chain letters, I at least take a quick browse, and I never call it spam (at least not to my friend!)
It can feel quite insulting for someone to refer to something you sent to them as spam! I remember once I cc'ed a former manager on something I'd written. Even though it was unrelated to my normal job, I wanted him to see my involvement with other things. Soon it sparked a big discussion with everyone doing a "reply all", so my manager was getting a bunch of email on a topic that, as it turns out, he was not at all interested in. He emailed me and asked him if I could "stop the spam". Hey! My stuff is NOT SPAM! If he wants spam, I'll show him SPAM. I'm sure I have a few Viagra ads around.. But I digress.
I find it interesting as I'm slowly finding my way on gather.com, and building my connections, I often get emails from those in my network. Sometimes these are personal emails, sometimes they're "read my article" emails, sometimes they're "join my group" emails, and sometimes they're "can you believe what so-and-so is saying about me?" emails. Is this spam? Well, these people did ask to "connect" and I accepted, so part of that deal is getting emails. I can always decide whether or not I want to follow through and read their articles or join their groups or believe that so-and-so is impersonating so-and-so. Getting an extra email is not a big deal. So, while others may call this "spam", I do not.
On the other hand, having SO many connections and belonging to SO many groups makes it very difficult for me to sort through and find content that I'm truly interested in. And despite my previous obsessiveness with scoring points, I would be shy about promoting my own work to my network, now that I've heard that technique referred to as "spam". I'm tempted to sort through my "friends" and limit them to those that I think I may truly have a connection with, but will it be insulting to drop people from my network? I'm flattered by requests for connections and have always accepted. How do people feel when a connection is dropped? Do they get notified? Do they get offended?
Well...I'm not sure what I'll do yet. Maybe I'll just send out my own "spam" and wait for people to drop me!