Spam from me to you

November 14, 2010 at 5:52 PM 1 comment

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If you are a friend of mine, you have received several e-mails in my name recently exhorting you to buy a 3G iPhone. In fact, you have received these e-mails if you corresponded with me however briefly about Puritans in seventeenth-century England, car insurance, digital filmmaking, online Hebrew classes, piano tuning, the Burning Man Project and the Google Creative Labs, to name a few of the subjects we may have discussed by e-mail over the years.

In short, anybody who knows me even a little knows that I do not send out e-mails with product offers. When it comes to my merchandising abilities, let’s put it this way: When God was doling out the e-commerce genes, He didn’t give me any. Come on, people! The product come-ons you received were spam. Somebody or something hacked into my Yahoo account and sent them to you.

The spamming done in my name bothers me for many reasons. For one, I ticked off a lot of people. Some surly e-mail recipients asked me why I was sending them offers to buy discounted electronics. Some thought I might be working with a partner who hadn’t told me that he was going to carpet-bomb his market by using my Yahoo contacts. Some more savvy souls, especially my friends from IBM, told me that my account had been hijacked. One recommended that I change my password, which I didn’t do until yesterday. More about that later.

Hello, I am a business idiot
What surprises me are the sincere e-mails from casual friends and business acquaintances who ask if I have gotten into some kind of sideline work. Partly I am flattered that they would think I have that e-commerce gene and the gumption to use it.

Partly too, though, I am alarmed at how people believe that these iPhone e-mails — all of them full of misspellings and bad punctuation — came from me. With all the social collaboration tools we are using to reveal our habits, thoughts and trivialities to each other, how could anybody think I was now embarking on a career as the orthographically-challenged purveyor of 3G iPhones?

The answer is that the increase in communications tools does not lead to true communication. My real-world, non-Yahoo, non-Facebook, non-LinkedIn, non-Twitter friends know that I am “hard-wired” to be a business idiot, and the last thing I would be capable of selling, even to a desperado shipwrecked on a Pacific Ocean atoll, would be a cell phone. If you must know the truth, I don’t even know what distinguishes a 3G iPhone from a Droid or a Blackberry. Is Droid the same as Android?

Let me introduce myself.

My name is Barbara Finkelstein. If you are a friend or have a business relationship with me, you also have known me by my various first names, including Brucha, Brukhe, Brushka, Babs and Brook. My most salient trait is a singular imbecility regarding commerce and numbers. Indeed, I may be the only Jew you will ever meet who does not have a mote of business sense. The only e-mails you will ever get from me will tell you in some flippant way what I’ve been reading lately (Borges) or watching (Season Two of 30 Rock). Between now and the middle of December, they will publicize this week’s Bookpod episode and blog post. And while these e-mails may include links to my Amazon Associates account, and while I hope that you click through to buy a book, I will never proposition you to do so.

Why I dragged my feet

You shouldn’t be getting any more spam from my Yahoo account because I finally changed my e-mail password. I should have changed it at the first hint of spam, but I procrastinated for one un-businesslike reason: I had a sentimental attachment to my password. It was something akin to “DICKENS,” which I loved superstitiously for the good affect it was sure to have on my fate as a writer. I loved it too because it was my first e-mail password.

I am not the only person who has had an unreasonable attachment to her password. In the mid-2000s, one of my IBM colleagues balked for weeks before changing her Lotus Notes password. She had used it for five years and didn’t want to switch. “I am my password,” she said. “My password is me.”

Until now, I have been a one-password woman. But time and circumstance compel me to “password around.” As Sting once counseled, “If you love somebody, set them free!” And Crosby, Stills & Nash — “Love the one you’re with!” Oh, DICKENS, I fought the rising tide of password promiscuity and must concede failure. Life online will never be the same without you. Farewell, beloved password! Farewell!

Related link
You’ve got FMail
According to TechCrunch, people are going to stop using e-mail in favor of Facebook’s FMail.


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Entry filed under: Bookpod, Friendship, Internet. Tags: , , , , , , .

Spawn of the devil’s own whore The various offerings of the world

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Doug  |  November 15, 2010 at 7:52 AM

    Even better would be if Yahoo caught the perps. I have a bunch of friends whose Yahoo accounts have been compromised in this way. Can’t be great for Yahoo as some of them migrate away…

    Sorry about the password. Mine are all random characters. (See the url.) The master safe password nobody knows but me. It never goes out on the wire. No. I don’t make any money selling KeePass. 🙂


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