Last Thursday I called the Daily News, identified myself and said that I thought their April Fool’s edition was ****ing marvelous. The guy who answered slammed down the phone! Hey, we’re the ones who GOT the joke. Lighten up!
I thought for sure that a news story I heard on NPR that morning was an April Fool’s joke, being too preposterous to be believed, but when I looked it up on the Internet that night I found, alas, that the joke was on me.
Google, the best search engine on the net, is proposing a new e-mail service, cutely called “Gmail.” The service is absolutely free, has tons of memory and offers the added benefit of searching all your mail for “key words” so that they can direct ads to you that will reflect your personal profile, needs and desires.
As NPR put it, if you write to a friend and mention the word “ticket,” Google will send you ticket information. Be careful what you wish for, and unless you want ads about train tickets, plane tickets, theater tickets, concert tickets, movie tickets and books on how to beat traffic tickets flooding your system, you’d better be specific, as in “I’d like tickets to see the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band,” something you could find easily enough by going directly to Google’s search.
Those using Eudora are already nervous about those chili peppers that appear, with warnings, to flag profanity. One chili for mild profanity, up to four (“wash your mouth out with soap”) for the big ones. With Gmail, you’ll really have to watch your words.
Note that I have used the word “joke” three times so far in this column. Clearly, here is a person who loves jokes – put her down as a joke recipient. Mention that your car is in the garage for repairs and you’ll drown in ads from new and used car dealers, car repair shops and loan companies.
And god forbid that you should name body parts, such as the b-word, the v-word or the p-word or you will be inundated with ads for enlargement or reduction, pills and salves to enhance the o-word and pills, patches, pumps and surgical options to enlarge and/or sustain the e-word.
Do not even think about including the word “pornography” in your correspondence, and if you’re sending kisses, don’t write XXX!
I don’t like intrusive ads that are thrust upon me. I don’t like junk mail, spam mail, telemarketers, radio ads or those flyers they put in with your bills, especially those that are attached to your return credit card envelopes, which you have to physically rip off before you can insert your check.
I hardly ever watch national TV because of the interrupting blizzard of ads, around which all the prime-time shows are written these days.
Maybe it’s because I’m in the ad biz at The Aspen Times, but I don’t mind print ads, with the exception of “hip” magazines where you can’t flail your way through the thicket of ads to find the Table of Contents – another kind of intrusion.
You pick up a newspaper, and you can read the ads or not. They do not “pop up” at you as they do on the Internet, you do not have to delete them as you proceed, and they do not blat their message just when you were getting into an interview on the radio or hanging by your fingernails at a critical moment in a TV drama.
The last thing I want is a sidebar of “personalized” ads when I’m reading my e-mail – that’s even worse than the spam you have to get rid of before you get your messages. I will just say NO to Gmail.
Su Lum is a longtime local who didn’t even touch on the Big Brother aspect. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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