Comment Spam: At Lease Someone Loves Me

I was delighted today to notice that I have 20 comments on my blog posts! 20 comments from people all over the world. How wonderful.

I think that spam is proof that people are evil by nature. Who does that? Just once, I want to meet the actual person behind just one of the spam hacks that goes out. What does he or she look like? What does he/she do for fun?

It boggles my mind that there are people out there who actually create spam for a living… knowingly. Will students I teach grow up to someday be spammers? Is that an occupation that kids list on their “what do you want to be when you grow up” essays?

“I can’t wait to grow up to be a spammer! I will find new ways to spell V1OGREA so people can’t block it! I will discover new methods of getting people to invest in my Namibian uncle who just needs a place to store his cash for a few weeks. Free iPhons? YOU BETCHA!!!”

Seriously. This is the world we live in.

The biggest issue I have with spam is that it has to work, right? I mean, at some point in time wouldn’t these people stop wasting time and effort in sending spam if it didn’t actually accomplish something?

My guess is that spam has become a self-fulfilling technology. Human beings no longer create spam. It is spontaneously created by machines that have an axe to grind with humanity. It’s not about termination of the human race ala Terminator, but rather annoyance.

Please. Just stop.

Reflection on “Real Life” versus the “Virtual”

I am looking at poster in my classroom that a group of students created. It reads, “It’s not where you are, it’s who you’re with.”

Where am I right now? I’m in my classroom sitting at a table somewhere in Omaha. I’m with students who are attempting to write. We are all here together in this sterile room with the fluorescent lamps flickering overhead.

The real world that I am in right now is not wonderful or perfect or in any way inspirational. So I close my eyes and listen to the Dante Symphony by Liszt and think of virtual places that will inspire my writing.

It is just this type of micro-fantasy that I engage in from moment to moment that probably leads most of us into our virtual world of choice. For some of us, the virtual manifests as Facebook or Twitter. Some enjoy Tubmblr or Instagram. And some disappear into Minecraft or any number of virtual gaming adventures. We long to be somewhere else with other people doing anything but what we are doing in the real world right now.

Technology has not made this a “new thing.” It has always been this way. As leisure time has increased, our ability to disappear from the real world has also grown. The more free time we have, the more ways we have to disappear. From theater to books to radio to television, we’ve been using technology to create virtual worlds for centuries. Blaming technology for creating this “problem” isn’t the right way to go about it. The question is, why are we so easily drawn out of reality into the virtual? What is it about our evolution that makes humans so readily able to disappear from the physical world?

I have no answer. I just want to contemplate the question.

The Kid Without a Computer

The kid without a computer walks into my room at this 1-1 school. All the other students get their laptops out obediently and look up what they are supposed to look up. The bell rings, and the student without a laptop just sits there looking kind of lost.

Sure, it’s probably his fault that he doesn’t have a computer. He might have lost the charger or he might have done something to break it, but it’s still a misery for both him and me. My lessons hinge on the use of some kind of technology. And as long as there is that one kid without a computer, I have to double prepare each day knowing that there will always be someone out there who isn’t prepared.

I bring this up because I have been thinking about the healthcare debacle as of late. There was a report about how very few people have actually signed up for the healthcare exchanges available online. And certainly the crapfest launch of that sad website has something to do with it, but seriously, who are the people who don’t have insurance in this country? They are probably the same people who still don’t have the internet, a computer, nor the means to get them.

I could just see those faceless millions of uninsured Americans in my mind; this mass of people that we want to get enrolled in a complicated government program that will probably cost them at least some money. These people who have no access to anything. If I can’t get that one kid in my classroom online at a wealthy school, how in the world can we, as a nation, reach those millions with no access at all?

I’m sure someone smarter than I am has already figured it out, right?