COLM O'REGAN: Opening Lines: In digital and analogue, spam is brief hope, then disappointment, then fury

Spam: the disappointment in your inbox. The notification that turns out to be nothing. It is angrily disposed of.

The disappointment is the same as you feel when you receive the analogue version of spam – the junk mail.

A letter from the Reader’s Digest with a golden key saying you are so close, one step away from winning the prize draw, just like Mrs Winterbottom of Derby.

Or fake handwritten messages from estate agents pleading you to sell your house because there are families lined up around the corner with bags of swag. In digital and analogue, spam is brief hope, then disappointment, then fury.

But I’ve started reading the messages. Not because I want to get involved in a hilarious back and forth with a spammer. I’ve done that before on one of those calls from a fake IT company and an Indian man got really mad at me for wasting his time, and I felt bad because no one likes a time-waster.

It’s just that sometimes, buried in the spam, is some little detail that opens my mind a little more.

Not all spam. There are still offers of penis-enlargement or YOU HAVE WON MALAGA LOTTERY. I feel like replying

“Fella, you are so 2010 with that stuff.”

And not the wrong headed attempts to mimic what we might get in Ireland. At least some of you have received notificaition from Revenue of a refund of about €489 or so.

The amount is clever. It’s the kind of little bonus you’d get having failed to claim a tax credit but intuitively you know that’s not how Revenue operates?

It’s like when Irish Water said to click here to claim €100 conservation grant for not conserving any water, we thought it was a hoax.

No the email I read of sheer curiosity is the Chinese one. Or I suppose you could say the Chinese yuan. Where they’re just selling something. They arrive every day, earnestly hoping I’ll trade with them.

Darren from Zhenjiang Coolrain footwear is offering me snowboots. Dan writes with the subject: Re Shower Door Hinge Supplier. Now we don’t have a shower door.

It’s a curtain, but still it’s quite perceptive. What 40-something in his right mind isn’t obsessed with sourcing hinges?

Vennie from Xiamen Stone Company a professional Stone Supplier in China which is located in the famous international stone center “Shuitou” is up next.

Slowly I am building up a picture of industry in China. I look their addresses up on Google Maps and am brought down into Industrial Estates (if the Google Van was allowed to travel there) or I can see the rice fields where the fake address should be. I read about their cities.

The hinge people are in Jiangmen City which according to Wikipedia is the birthplace of Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow - Mobster and Dragon Head of the San Francisco Chinese Freemasons.

Then Rollins Stanley – formerly of the US Army - chips in saying “I really need your help in assisting me with the safe keeping of Two Military Trunk Boxes. I hope you can be trusted?

Kindly view for your records:” and then there is a link to an article on the BBC website about the billions that went missing in Iraq.

I think Rollins Stanley might be telling me that he has some Iraqi wealth to share with me. His email address comes from Russia.

The thing is, there was a time when that would have been a dead giveaway that it was spam, but an American soldier trying to dispose of Iraqi wealth in Russia pretty much puts him high up in the Trump administration.

So I’m very close to replying to that one. I emerge from my internet rabbit hole a few minutes later, blinking, laden down with disposable geographical and industrial knowledge. But still, I’m looking forward to my next helping of spam.


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