In the Villages: Wonderful but dangerous

The internet has everything you need to know—in spam.

Story: Joe Angione

Each year, the internet offers more coverage of information that people want to deliver to other people. Some of this email is good, authoritative, helpful news on virtually every conceivable thing that humans might want to know.

But a lot of internet messages remain filled with attempts to misinform and even to actually harm those who receive them. Unfortunately, there is no agency that exists to police these messages or to evaluate their truth and safety. Essentially, you’re on your own to determine what messages you’re willing to receive and read.

As a writer who wants to know just about everything the internet is bringing to the nation’s attention, I don’t use a “spam filter” or any other protocol to block certain categories of messages. Consequently, I receive more than 150 messages daily, and it’s a tedious chore to identify the truth from the lies. Messages such as “Is your prostate as big as a lemon?” or “This green veggie causes diabetes” might scare you, but there’s no possible way to know the truth without a doctor’s help.

Another email that comes to me almost weekly says: “The financial collapse of our lifetime is coming.” It’s always from a financial company that has protection to sell … and it doesn’t come cheap. Then there are the “almost too clever” emails that simply say, “Please read this.” Don’t. If that’s all they can say to get you to open their email, they have no worthwhile message to deliver.

You don’t have to expose yourself to the garbage that hides in many email messages. Most servers, like AOL, Google and others, provide help. They place a “spam” button or link along the top of each email you receive. Click on it and the email is both deleted and reported as spam. You may still receive a couple more emails from the offending source. Click the spam button on these also, and very soon the offender will stop contacting you.

Google’s Gmail also will help you block certain categories of email and block individual offending email sources. But the process is somewhat complex, so the best bet is to click the spam button on each offending email you receive. Don’t just delete them.

Although filtering spam isn’t quick and easy, it’s worth the time and effort. Remember: You control the internet’s impact on your life; it shouldn’t control you.