Friday, March 10, 2006

The Paradoxical Nature of Unsolicited Junk Mail

As you may know from your own experiences, dealing with junk mail presents many intellectually taxing dilemmas, dilemmas that don't have any right answers.

Consider this piece of junk mail I received the other day (click for larger and clearer image):
I spotted three baffling quandaries in dealing with this letter.

1) The most obvious dilemma set forth by this junk is the contest advertised in big bold letters on the front of the mailing.

Contest-containing junk mail presents a perplexing predicament. In all honesty, these letters are lose-lose situations in the absolute worst way.

Consider these facts: a) If you win any prize of value, you pretty much know the thing's a scam. b) If you don't win, while you may know the contest is likely on the up-and-up, you still don't get anything.

However, it takes only seconds to scratch off a seal, and that's certainly worth a chance at being the lucky winner.

But, the previously outlined thinking will not allow you to believe you've won, as being a "winner" essentially means you're being set up to be conned.

Therefore, you really get nothing no matter what.

Now that's a vicious cycle.*

2) The next dilemma is posed by the letter's greeting, "To our friends."

On the one hand, you want to like the guys down in Florida that sent you this letter - as they say, "A stranger is just a friend you haven't met." Heck, they even referred to you as a friend of theirs, which would seem to imply the desire for frienship is reciprocal.

On the other hand, they just sent you unsolicited junk mail, and to be honest, friends don't send friends junk mail. Furthermore, if they were a true friend, wouldn't they name you, by, well, name? As Mr. Mosty often says, "Only communists have to refer to one another as comrades; in America, we know who our friends are."

3) The final logical puzzle I will list here, but foremost in importance and procedure in dealing with *ANY* piece of junk mail, involves whether or not to even bother reading it.

You may hold, as I have, that junk mail is nothing more than a shameful waste of trees and your time. In reality, the situation isn't anywhere near that simple.

The first thing you must realize is that it's up to you whether or not the mail is a complete waste of resources. If you choose to throw away the mail without reading it, you may save your precious time, but you're responsible for damning those trees' sacrifice; if you don't bother to even glance at the letter's contents, then, and only then, do those plant's existences become meaningless.

On the other hand, if you read the junk mail, you've wasted valuable seconds, moments, or even hours of your life.

The catch 22 is oh so clear: if you want to protect and respect the environment by avoiding wastefulness, you need to read the mail or else you're adding to the problem by rendering the paper completely useless. However, if you took the time to pore over your daily allotment of unsolicited mail every day, you would be cutting into your precious time to lobby for greater vegetative protection and fewer junk mailings.

Perhaps it really comes down to this: thank goodness for junk email.

Then again, maybe that's not it.


*In case you're wondering what's behind that seal, I won a $500 dollar coupon gift card. Pretty sure that falls into the "not anything of value" category.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

YOU SHOULD HAVE GIVEN THAT CARD TO ME!!! I WOULD HAVE BEEN SO EXCITED TO SEE THE ANSWER TO ALL OF OUR PROBLEMS...RIGHT HERE IN MY VERY HANDS...THINK OF WHAT I COULD DO WITH ALL OF THIS MONEY...I,I,I,IYAHHHH...OH NOOOO! I ACCIDENTALLY...I DIDN'T MEAN TO TEAR IT...AHHHHHHHHHHH!
HUMMM, on the other hand, it's a good thing you didn't give it to me! Loser of valuable junk mail