Everybody knows the Internet holds many dangers. This can mean agreeing to meet with that cute guy from Facebook, who's just finished making a suit out of female flesh. Or, it can be something really scary, like joining the Peter Frampton Newsletter. Not knowing things are so slow that Frampton himself is going to come over and deliver it—every day.
But worse? Just ponder the slice of purgatory we call "Unsubscribing." The simple task of filling out an online form to get off of someone's list is now so upsetting you need to recite a special mantra just to survive it. But where to find it? Why, at the website www.specialmantras.com, which will send you 15 a day. And won’t stop until you unsubscribe. Clearly, this whole thing is such a monstrously cruel zen riddle, it could drive Deepak Chopra into pulling a tri-state killing spree.
You know how it goes.
Say your friend has a birthday coming up. Instead of going to the store and wading through the parade of cards featuring adorable kittens, chimps in Hawaiian shirts or vague-looking cartoon characters, who are either mentally-impaired or drawn by people who are, you decide to send an e-card instead.
So you click a link, which seems an innocent enough act. But that’s what they thought when they opened the door near the end of “Poltergeist.” And out came that huge white head with the snapping jaws.
This is much scarier.
As you know, the minute you sign up with any group, you get an endless supply of e-mails that flood your inbox. Whether they’re from Mel Gibson’s father and his religious group, or really crazy people like the 123 Greeting Card Company. They thank you for joining. They thank you for thanking them for joining. And from here it gets really stupid. You receive 10 or 12 messages a week, trying to get you to buy something. Or, in Hutton Gibson’s case, why you should secede from the Church and join him and his fellow believers for those survivalist maneuvers in the woods.
See, if you’ve ever Unsubscribed, you know this leads you through the Internet’s version of the underground sewers of Paris. You follow this route and that, and you never know if you’re going to ever get out. And don’t get me started on the smell. Usually, you click on one Unsubscribe, only to find that it takes you to three more Unsubscribe clicks to get off the list. But, along the way, you’ve probably clicked something else really vital, which means you'll be getting more spam. Plus, you have to report to active duty in the morning.
Are you ever done? Uh, no. Because once you’ve done all this you usually get an e-mail thanking you for Unsubscribing. Sometimes you know to just delete this. If, however, you click on anything, well, guess what? Congratulations, you’ve just Subscribed again.
So, what’s the solution here? Never sign up for anything, from a simple newsletter to updates about your favorite band. That’s right. Do not! Don’t believe me? Then just get on the Van Halen mailing list and you’ll see. You’ll never stop hearing about David Lee Roth. Or, from David Lee Roth. I’ve learned this from bitter experience. You don’t want that guy getting your contact info.
Then, there’s something I just heard about. A site that promises to help you should you sign up with a bunch of places that won’t stop pelting you with e-mail. It’s called www.unsubscribe.com. One click and they promise, promise, they’ll help you get rid of all the spam. So I leave you with one final question: what, I ask you, could possibly go wrong with that?
Peter Gerstenzang is a freelance videographer and entertainment and humor writer based in Rye Brook. He writes several other humor columns for Rye Patch, including Happy Mondays, Wry Observations and Cracking the Code. Very Un PC is an occasional column about the hassles of 21st century technology.