For the past several weeks, my spam filter has been blocking emails I’m calling insult spam. The New York Times wrote about them in June, around the time I started receiving them.
(Oh, how wonderful it is to be an early adopter!)
Basically, these messages have a customized subject header that says things like: ‘You look stupid mwaxman’ or ‘You look like a moron mwaxman’.
At first glance, I was taken aback. I mean who are these people to tell me I’m a moron?
But then I had to laugh at the the absurdity of the situation. I mean, here I was feeling bad about a silly comment from someone I don’t know who’s ostensibly trying to spread a virus or sell me something.
And I wondered, who in their right mind, would open an email like this?
On further reflection, I realized messages like these are aimed at our neuroses, in much the same way as so-called complimentary spam (notes that say things like, ‘You look hot’ or ‘I noticed you across a crowded room’).
Essentially, they’re preying on our need to be liked.
And I think it’s high time we started doing a better job of human-filtering; of seeing things for what they are and leaving our insecurities behind.
In a world where communications plays such an important part of our lives, we owe it to ourselves to develop and practice good critical judgement.