I enjoy receiving e-mail. I get quite a bit from readers, with suggestions for stories or links to their own blogs, and I read them all. I don’t answer as many as I should, if truth be told, and don’t use as many as I probably ought to, but I do read them all.
That being said, I have one condition that I set. It might seem a bit egotistical or demanding, but it’s one I stand by. I want the sender to give the e-mail as much attention as I give it. That means that I prefer individual e-mails over simply being part of a list. And most of all I don’t like being signed up for any lists without my knowledge or consent, where folks simply “shotgun” their thoughts (such as they are) across the ‘net, hoping that if they send enough out, they might actually get one or two good results.
It’s a form of spamming. It’s seductive in its appeal, because once the list is set up, there’s no more cost or effort in sending out 10,000 e-mails as there is one. All the efforts are shifted on to the recipients — who, in most cases, never consented to picking up the burden.
I’ve ripped quite a few people who decided a while ago that I could not simply live another day without being sent a link to their blog, usually accompanied by some cryptic, pseudo-enticing teaser. (Yes, you know I’m talking about you. Thanks for shifting your efforts from me to the Carnival of Trackbacks. And I mean you, too, Mr. Johnny One-Note. Thank you for no longer sending me you “discoveries” linking Nazism to certain aspects of American culture. And you, my one-time phone buddy, for not making me cost you a THIRD ISP account for refusing to stop spamming me.)
The worst, I think, has to be the organizations. I’ve written quite a bit about illegal aliens, so I can kind of see why the Center for Immigration Studies would think I might be interested in their work. But it would have been nice if they’d asked first. Or, after the first time I called them and read them the riot act, they would have taken me off their list. It might have avoided my second very heated call.
I still don’t understand why Shaw-Media of Canada sends me notices about their directories. I’m glad they are THE source for information on how to get grants from the Canadian government, but several of their representatives could not tell me about a single one that I qualified for. Nevertheless, it’s critically important that they send me word on how to get their books — for a very reasonable $59.95. I’m sure that their information is as thoroughly researched as their mailing lists, and worth every penny.
But every now and then I get surprised by who spams me.
I’ve never read anything by Ayn Rand, but the general impression I have is that her philosophy has a strong element of libertarianism to it. I’ve always found that appealing, especially the live-and-let-live aspect.
Which is why I was so surprised — and a bit disappointed — to get an e-mail last week from the Ayn Rand Institute with the complete text of an op-ed piece by David Holcberg and Alex Epstein, entitled “The Anti-Life Opposition to Embryonic Stem Cell Research.”
The gist of it was… well, dull. Almost 800 words of schlock, hyperbole, scare quotes, and other forms of drivel.
In fact, the most interesting part of it had to have been the notice at the end:
ARI’s media releases are solicitations sent to addresses obtained from commercially available databases and from Web sites that have an apparent interest in publication material.
You are subscribed as [email protected] If you prefer not to receive future releases, visit our Web site to change your email preferences.
(Address omitted for no real reason)
Ain’t that sweet. They like me so much, they’re gonna force-feed me their crap until I play nice, jump through their hoops, and beg politely to be left alone.
I don’t play those games. And since they were kind enough to include their contact information (David Holcberg — Media Department, Ayn Rand Institute, Phone: (949) 222-6550 ext. 226 E-mail: [email protected]), I believe I’ll give Mr. Holcberg a call come Monday and waste as much of his time as his institute has wasted of mine.
And maybe they’ll see the libertarian side of simply leaving folks alone who haven’t asked to have their mailboxes filled with his crap.