Every morning I wake up, stagger out of bed, and log into email. I do that even before I have a cup of coffee in my hand. And every morning, I find that my inbox has been infested overnight again by spam. No, not the tasty “meat” manufactured by Hormel for years (and a favorite of GI’s in World War II). This is 21st century spam also known as junk email: messages promising the moon and the stars and the clovers for just one simple click on their link. Never mind that the link’s URL contains abbreviations for countries like Rumania or Nigeria or Jamaica, man.
Stop thinking, Richard! The sky is the limit and my ship has come in! I’ve been approved for loans that I didn’t apply for. I have won overseas lotteries that I did not enter. Russian and Asian women I have not met can’t wait to see me again. A simple click of the “Delete All” button and all that good fortune is gone, thrown in the trash until tomorrow morning when my inbox will be full of it again.
It is a never-ending cycle that we have come to accept in today’s cyber world but I wonder if we have ever taken a moment to think about all the spam still rolling around the inbox of our minds. You know, all those useless moments and songs and facts that we have picked up through the years and somehow retained even when we don’t want to. They come in all shapes and sizes.
There are TV commercials from my youth. Let’s see if any of them ring a bell for you (click on the link for the answer):
“Mamma Mia, that is a spicy meatball!”
“It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”
“Tastes like wild hickory nuts.”
I’m particularly troubled that I’ve hung onto this Levi’s jingle from the early 1970s: “Good morning, world! Good morning to you hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo. I’m a wearing my Le-he-he-he-he-he-vi’s!” (I can do the whole song upon request).
Or this Wyler drink commercial from 1970:
Or “I’m a Pepper. She’s a Pepper. He’s a Pepper. We’re a Pepper. Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?” (Dr. Pepper) Tell me truthfully, can’t you recite the entire theme song to the following TV shows: The Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan’s Island, Green Acres, or Petticoat Junction? Others of you can sing along to the closing tunes for The Lawrence Welk Show or Hee Haw. It makes me wonder why we just don’t have a “Delete All” button on the side of our heads.
Pop songs linger on in my head long after we’ve ceased hearing them on the radio. That’s not so bad if it is a classic like “Hey Jude” or “Don’t Be Cruel” or “Stardust.” But why in the world is my brain hanging onto “Indiana Wants Me” (“Lord, I can’t go back there”), “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero”, or “Dizzy”? My head is spinning…….
And yet there is much that is good about our brains retaining all this spam of daily life. Because if we didn’t retain that stuff then we would not retain other things like: that Christmas when you got that gift you never thought you were going to get. Or the first time your baby looked at you and smiled. Or that night when the person of your dreams said they loved you.
Shared memories of past cultural events are also the way we make connections with those of our own generation. Like when I start humming the “T-Berry shuffle”, or start flailing my arms around while shouting, “Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!” Phrases like that are all part of each generation’s collective past and we use them as verbal shorthand to show others our age that we have share the same path. We have walked the same road. Experienced many of the same highs and lows. It is also the way we hang onto ourselves by remembering all the things that have gone into making us the person we are today.
Remember that the next time you open your inbox and stare at all the spam sent to you from halfway around the world. Look how far we’ve come………
THE ORIGINS OF SPAM
The Monty Python sketch that started it all.