Sunday, November 19, 2006

Congratulations, you may already be a chump

When I got online first thing Monday morning my inbox already had three emails notifying me that I'd won, ah say WON!, lotteries in far away places. This time it was Cancun , Ireland and South Africa .

Every week, I get several emails about winning mysterious lotteries I never entered. Yet, no matter how broke I am, no matter how much a little windfall might actually mean to me, like most people who regularly spend part of their day online, I know better than to bother with such email.


However, since zillions of bogus lottery winner emails are still going out from somewhere, eight days a week, it must mean some poor souls still are responding and falling into a snare that will likely expose them to some mischief, perhaps an opportunity to be duped out of some of their dough. I have to think the lottery spam artists are still making some money for their efforts, or they would simply stop and do something else.

Alas, the swift ease of communication that email has brought to modern life hasn't come without its price. Spam and viruses, etc., delivered to us by email steal our time, even if they don't reach directly into our wallets. Beyond such pesky nonsense there are the jokes with graphics that helpful friends send so often. With my computer they can take ten minutes to load. Then, when I get to the punch line -- oy vey! -- it is so-o rarely worth the bother.

There are those top priority emails that absolutely require a quick response, so I must stop whatever I'm doing, hop off that train of thought and shoot back a rapid reply.


Speaking of "send," perhaps the reader is familiar with the concept of sending a hasty email out too late at night. Since email means a written record, I'm told a guy caught up in a buzz-driven mood swing can do himself more harm with a keyboard and an Internet hookup than he can with a telephone.


Listening to some friends, they tell me I have it easy compared to what time they must spend attending to their email every day. A few of them aren't convinced email is at all a boon to our way of life.

Back to those lottery winner emails -- since they've been around for a few years, and are so obviously a waste of time, at best, why would anyone in their right mind still open one and believe anything written inside?

Why would anyone's hope be raised by a CONFIRM YOUR WINNING subject line?

The answer has to be that the spammers are hip to the same thing Madison Avenue and TV evangelists figured out a long time ago -- most of us want desperately to be winners. At the very least we need a glimmer of hope that we could one day measure up and become winners.

Anything but losers...

After all, in this age of plenty and conformity being a winner means getting the sweet perks that go with the good life. It means having a smirking sense of entitlement is OK ... hey, eventually, the tab will get picked up by somebody else.

Most of all, being seen by our peers and neighbors as a loser must be avoided, no matter what. So, millions of anxious people spend billions for drugs -- legal and otherwise -- to help allay the nagging worry that they themselves might be closet losers.

In sports, from the pros filtering all the way down to little leagues, coming in second place has been twisted into being viewed as a shameful thing -- LOSER!! No doubt the electronic sports media, using all the latest communication gizmos, do much to promulgate that rather shallow, dilettante's view of what healthy competition is, or should be, all about.

Regarding door prizes, office pools, and so forth, plenty of times, when I've heard someone say with a what's-the-use? tone, "Oh, I've never won anything," it sounded more like a confession than a statement of fact. The bleak underlying implication being that while winners win with ease, losers consistently lose because that's what they deserve, it is their destiny.

No doubt, those same poor confessing chumps will be among those targeted for the next avalanche of spam, going out any minute -- CONGRATULATIONS!!! YOU'VE WON THE FIRST LOTTERY HELD ON MARS.

Like, who couldn't use a little windfall? Who wouldn't enjoy a measure of val, ah say VALIDATION?

-- words and art by F.T. Rea

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