Thursday , July 18 2024

My Worthless Day: The Long-Term Effect of Spam

Here is my day today: I sent out a group email to all 500+ of our members via my Compuserve account regarding our 2nd anniversary and other administrative things.

I was told – when AOL absorbed Compuserve and we were switched over to the AOL mail system a couple of years ago – that I could send as many emails as I wanted as long as I didn’t have any individual “address groups” that had more than 20 names in each. So, I broke down my groups to under-20 names each, and now have to send to 30 email groups to cover all 500+ Blogcritics. So far so good.

Well, due to the relentless onslaught of spam, AOL/Compuserve have changed their rules AGAIN, and now sending emails to 30 address groups, with under 20 names per group, is against the rules, and they blocked my account as the 30th email dashed off into cyberspace via my cable modem.

I had an idea of what was up: being kicked offline just as your 30th group email goes out seemed a bit more than coincidental, especially in these paranoid times. So after trying to get back online a couple of times I called tech support – in India. I love those cheerful Indians! No, I mean I really do, and I find the accent charming, if sometimes hard to fully comprehend from 12,000 or so miles away.

But it wasn’t a tech problem, it was a policy problem, and the Indian gentleman named “Washington” sent me back to America to the clandestine group of operatives called the “Community Action Team” – sounds like people you would call to haul away the dead raccoon clogging up the storm drain, but they are in fact the email police.

The email policewoman asks me if I was aware that I had just sent out “30 emails to over 500 individual addresses,” and if so why? I explained my role as administrator for an organization (Blogcritics) and that I sent out group emails like this a couple of times a month and had been doing so for years without any problems. She said the rules had changed. I said fine – spam sucks carrion dong and I’m all for efforts to stamp it out with extreme prejudice – but that didn’t apply to me as I am a responsible administrative type who is just doing his communicative duty for the home team.

She said no prob, we’ll sign you up for our bulk email list as long as you are not a) sending porn, or b) sending to people who don’t want to hear from your skeevy ass, or something to that effect; and I said “no” and “no” respectively. She said you are unblocked, but you can’t send any more bulk email for the next 24 hours, after which time your new bulky status will take effect. I saluted, thanked her and got back to work.

I got back in to Compuserve fine, got my email fine (dozens more had accumulated, I get several hundred a day, about 75% of which is spam), but when I hit “send” to reply to a fine missive from one of you upstanding citizens, I got the “hourglass” instead of the usual snappy “your mail has been sent.”

I waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, it timed out. I tried again – same thing. I called my CAT pals, they said “we didn’t do it, call tech support.”

So, back to India, a land of excellent food, acute philosophy, beguiling women, and tech support for every fucking American computer and online service. The polite and animated woman wanted nothing more in the world than to solve my problem, I could tell. We deleted my cache, checked this, checked that and tried it again. Same thing. “Mr. Olsen, it must be a system problem on our end – I will put in a report and it will be fixed within 24 hours. No problem. Okey-dokey?” I love that they care enough to throw in the colloquialism for my personal comfort. “Okey-dokey,” I replied.

Back to the email (the one constant in this ever changing world in which we live in, sing it Paulie): I open one, reply, try to send it, get the hourglass, say “shit,” then go to file the email, because people, it’s a KEEPER. I click on “file message,” only none of my filing cabinet folders come up – not “Blogcritics,” not the cleverly titled “Blogcritics Admin,” not even my beloved “Posted Review Material”! Where is my filing cabinet with my 13 different categories and 2000 crucial stored emails, some of them 7 and 8 years old?!? It is gone like an Enron retirement plan, vanished, hoovered from existence.

Back to India, it’s the same tech woman! “Oh, Mr. Olsen, back so quickly?” She scolds me about storing so many emails, said I had “burst the cabinet, kablam!” but somehow conjured it back onto my desktop. But not back into my active Compuserve software. She sternly told me I would have to start over with a new filing cabinet; the old filing cabinet would sit there like a museum on my desktop, accessible but inert, in a permanent “read-only” condition. Inconvenient, but I was just happy to get it back – my sweet lost emails returned!

With a lighter heart, I opened up Compuserve again, ony it didn’t open: I got an error message: “Your Compuserve software is fucked up, if you get this message repeatedly, please reinstall Compuserve.”

Son of an assplowing untouchable! I wave my private parts in the direction of Bangalore!

Back to India, this time a guy, for the next hour we installed a new copy of Compuserve, took apart my computer with tweezers and a toothbrush, recited a goodly portion of the Upanishads, STILL got the HOURGLASS when I tried to send an email, and at last my new subcontinent buddy said, “Well Mr. Olsen, thank you so much for your patience [he said this everytime he put me on hold], but all our efforts have been thwarted, we must wait for them to fix the system. Have a wonderful day.” And he was gone.

Now I have a filing cabinet on my desktop that I can never add another email to, a naked filing cabinet in my newly downloaded Compuserve software, email I can’t send until they “fix the system within 24 hours,” and an entire wasted piece of shit Monday.

Thank you, spammers. Suck, blow and die.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted,, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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