As if it seemed at all possible, the Internet has given SPAM a bad name. This product (chopped pork shoulder meat with ham meat added, salt, water, sugar, and sodium nitrite) produced by Hormel Foods Corporation, which came up with the name to replace its Hormel Spiced Ham product, got many people through World War II, especially in England, and thanks to America’s Lend lease program.
The accepted etymology of today’s “spam” with a lower case, is the 1970 Monty Python sketch in a restaurant where SPAM rules and SPAM is spoken and sung incessantly—SPAMming the dialogue.
Years later, on the earliest message boards of the Internet, piling on of the word SPAM was used to crowd out certain people’s messages, a practice that morphed into an actual message of no consequence repeated over and over.
Today, we know spam as a separate word that refers to generally unwanted email, or posts in online discussion groups, or in the comment sections of blogs.
Over the years, I’ve received my share of spam on this blog, each of which is screened and zapped before making it to the screen (or in some cases, right after).
By way of email, spam is prolific. My IP server screens the truly viral stuff, plus the ones from illegitimate email addresses. I get to look at them online and can choose to have them sent to me or zapped. But valid email addresses that I have not listed for my server to zap wind up coming to me, so my share of spam hasn’t ended.
Lately, I’m receiving a lot of spam from wine clubs, PR people that work for wineries, some wineries themselves, and people with wine accessories to sell. Some of it is legitimate and welcome, but most of it is the annoying spam. What bugs me about it is that I have no idea what methods these people use to find my multiple email addresses.
One assumption I make is that by participating in online discussion boards (which I haven’t done for months and don’t plan to ever do again), by commenting on other people’s blogs, and by generally surfing the Internet for information my email trail is sniffed, despite the privacy messages that every outfit issues these days but that I have never taken seriously.
Besides the annoyance of receiving unwanted solicitations, I also wonder what it is that I must have said or done online to make anyone believe that I would endorse the next stupid and useless wine accessory, or the next wine gimmick, or the next winery with lots of money but nothing interesting to drink, or the next best wine expert in the universe.
I make every attempt to persuade people to think of me as a major curmudgeon who cannot be persuaded by wine ratings, cannot be enticed with praise, cannot be snared into shilling, cannot be made to write a non-story, and cannot be bought (well, if the price is really right—maybe). Yet, the spam keeps coming.
When I re-started a wine column in a local newspaper that I had abandoned a few years ago, I sent an email to all local wineries to let them know that I was interested in what they were doing. I explicitly told them that I did not want to know about their special holiday events or their new pricing structure, etc., as I was not to be considered an extension of their promotion effort. What I want from them is information about their vineyard and winemaking program that was either new or innovative, information about their plans for sustainability, and other hot topics.
What do I get from the majority of these wineries? Email about their holiday events and their latest sale prices—spam, to me.
Ever wonder why Hormel hasn’t tried to prevent the use of its trademark?
We writers obsess over such matters, as we must be extra careful about trademark use.
Well, if you owned the trademark to a word so widely used that typing it into the Internet could get you here SPAM would you try to stop that word from being used?
If you are reading this entry anywhere other than on the vinofictions blog, be aware that it has been lifted without my permission (and without recompense), and that’s a copyright infringement, no matter that the copyright information appears with it.
Copyright Thomas Pellechia
December 2009. All rights reserved.