It used to be that whoever was coming up with the Subject lines for spam simply appealed to a need shared by many people. It didn’t matter if that need was the point of their message, they just wanted to get you to open that email up and read the first sentence. Apparently if you get that far enough people keep going to make it worth continuing to spam. You know the like:
- “Upgrade your organ: no side effects”
- “Become the unicorn of your neighborhood”
Ahem. Apparently there are many men out there who are, shall we say, lacking in confidence. Note that those are actually Subjects in my Gmail spam folder right now.
And then there are the Subjects where the writer guesses at our prurient interests. Usually by invoking the name of some unattainable celebrity who is either a naif, wholesome, has been known to almost get naked, or is well-known for keeping his or her clothes on:
- “Miley cyrus naked photos expose”
- “Party scenes with American Idols”
- “Carrie Underwood nude shots exposed”
- “Watch Scarlet go down on Britney: scandalous video”
- “Brad Pitt strips naked for Playboy”
- “Olsen twins caught nude on camera”
Those are just a couple of the more rancid types of spam Subjects, among others that are more direct appeals like “Sapphire crystal watchglass” and “Purchase software at surprisingly low prices”.
All this is understood by most of us, hardly needing reiteration (although it’s not healthy to leave things assumed and unsaid) and those bullet lists will probably make this the most-trafficked post in the history of my blog. But I have a point. Recently I’ve noticed the spam Subjects that my Gmail account receives are often much more compelling to me, the pop-culture movie, news, and politics junkie. Some examples:
- “Brad Pitt confesses to betrayal”
- “Apple files for bankruptcy”
- “Video of rampage in Tokyo”
- “China fires missile in Taiwan’s direction”
- “Angelina Jolie suffers miscarriage”
- “Subprime crisis finally over: feds report”
- “Eminem prank calls LL Cool J”
- “The Mummy 3 movie bankrupt, release delayed”
- “Mccain vows to remain celibate”
- “Plane crashes into White House injuring hundreds”
- “Clinton says: Hillary cheated on me”
- “Obama found dead in shock accident”
- “McCain suffers heart attack”
- “Eminem found dead in disco toilet”
- “Russel Crowe admits to love affair with Angelina”
And the one I just had to click on to make sure it was spam: “Spielberg found dead in freak accident”
I’m on so many mailing lists and such that even though I don’t know the sender, and even though I just know that it’s spam, I clicked anyway, because the supposed headline is just so plausible and whatifit’strueijusthavetoknow!
Somebody out there, some spamming genius asshole, is taking time to figure out a) what topics we (or at least people like me) are all interested in and b) what turn of events would be particularly shocking with regard to those topics. And they’re pretty damn effective, at least when Gmail fails to filter them.
If only they could use their powers for good.