Internet Junk: Spam, Hoax, and Glurge

iStock_000015937985XSmallBefore there was the internet, chain mail has existed. Since the growth of the internet, chain letters and hoaxes have exploded as it became easier and easier to “pass it on” as it has reduced the cost of paper, postage, time, and effort required. As someone who LOVES the internet, I do hate all forms of spam. As someone who value fact over fiction, I hate hoaxes and glurges. The term glurge was invented by Snopes.com, a website dedicated to cataloging and often debunking urban legends. Unfortunately, while the word glurge may be fictional, the phenomenon it describes is not. Glurge is best described as the cloyingly sentimental stories, testimonials and object lessons frequently sent as email or chain letters.

It used to be limited to your email inbox, but not anymore. It is now invading your social media space and it is all over your Facebook newsfeed. Facebook has made it a lot more easy for someone to share this crap to a greater multitude on social media — at least with email one had to actually add contacts to the recipient field, but now all anyone has to do upon seeing a piece of hoax or spam is to press that little share button. Not a day goes by where I do not see some type of hoax or glurge in my newsfeed.

As a upstanding netizen, it can be incredibly time consuming to properly deal with all this hoax and glurge. The objective is always to prevent the spread of misinformation. Usually this is accomplished by going to a site like Snopes.com or Hoax-Slayer.com, doing a quick search and finding the page with information on the offending item. I then copy and paste the URL and either reply to all in an email or post in a Facebook comment. Given that see about at least 5-10 a day, this easily takes me about 15-30 minutes a day!  Even then people might still call you names for being a bitchy, mean party-pooper (yes this actually does happen to me ever so often). I guess I can understand — what is the harm, especially when it comes to a glurge, when it is just sentimental?

Here are all the ways that spam, hoaxes, and glurges cause harm:

  • They slow down internet traffic.
  • They are a waste of time.
  • They contain illegal content.
  • They often steal copyright content and post them without permission
  • They are often created with questionable motives, for profit and malice.
  • They are often designed to steal money or identity (e.g. phish scams).
  • They are often lies, created to misinform and scare the public.
  • Even if they are created for sentimentality, you are helping the original poster’s questionable motives (usually profit).

Why you should be careful:

  • A 2006 study by Consumer Reports estimated that in two years, Americans spent more than $7 billion on repairs and parts replacement resulting from viruses, malware and spyware. This does NOT even take into account the cost to the Internet Providers who have to pay for all the bandwidth taken up by the spammers junk, or the cost in time, money and productivity to businesses that have to sort through all the spam.
    – See more at: http://protectspam.com/spam/what-is-the-harm-with-spam/#sthash.JasPUCjH.dpuf
  • A “like” or “share” on Facebook means you are contributing to Facebook Edgerank. This increases the likelihood that poster gets more views, and once they get a lot of likes and shares, they can turn around and sell that Fan page.
    – See more at http://daylandoes.com/facebook-like-scams
  • If you are not yet convinced yet read this post on Buzzfeed.

Because I love the internet and because I care about my friends and those in my social network, I have been trying to give people facts either by replying with a link or posting a comment with a link. This may have some effect on email, but it is actually a terrible thing to do with Facebook because it actually tells Facebook Edgerank by commenting that this is something that is engaging when what you should be doing is to disengage quietly and only give information to the system.

Facebook Feedback

Select the arrow on the right of the Facebook post to provide negative feedback

Here’s what you should do:

  • When you are on Facebook, give negative feedback by hiding the post, hiding all from a page, report spam, or unlike the page. Do not reward unethical business or poor etiquette!
  • Only like, share, or comment on original comment or information from credible and worthy sources (ideally you have read and checked yourself).
  • When you see spam, mark it as spam. This way, the spam filters can learn from your report.
  • If a friend is forwarding hoaxes and spam, it is very possible their account was hacked and they don’t even know it, so you might let them know if you have the time and if you know them well enough. Most of the time, the best thing to do is to ignore.

What ever you do, DO NOT REPOST spam, hoaxes, or glurges. When in doubt, do a little fact checking or just delete it!

 

Why Do Women Love Mr. Darcy?


Recently I came upon this image while on Facebook. It was liked by over 21,000 people within a matter of a few days. It has been a while since I read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but I remember thinking that Mr. Darcy was as annoying as her Emma! Like Emma, he is “handsome, clever, and rich,” but he is also arrogant and meddling as well. What is it about Mr. Darcy, that women like? Is it the handsome, clever, and rich part or is it something else?  

If memory serves, I also recalled that there are also endearing characteristics, like that he is awkwardly honest. I am sure that most modern women would dump a guy who is so brutally honest he criticizes your attractiveness on first meeting, though. Mr. Darcy is like a lot of men (as he even describe himself as selfish and overbearing), until you consider that he is sensitive, a good listener, thrives on criticism, and changes for the woman he loves. This is where the fairy tale elements kick in — I know very few men (or women) who can sit there and take harsh criticisms without getting defensive, remain a gentleman, is deeply affected by the tongue lashing, good apologizing, and actually make changes based on said criticism. He does all this and yet likes Elizabeth Bennett just as she is. Very few men will have all those qualities and still be handsome, clever, and rich!

I do enjoy the witty banter, and I love a good sparring of wit. However, I wonder if Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy would have made it happily ever after as a modern married couple. If you want to have a good relationship, John Gottman, the foremost relationship expert and researcher warns one of the six predicting factors of divorce is ” harsh startups,” or the use of criticism, sarcasm, or harsh words. In fact, he calls  Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling (withdrawal) the ” four horsemen” of marriage  apocalypse. Of course, the number one predictor of divorce is habitual conflict avoidance, which is clearly not a problem for Mr. Darcy and his Elizabeth.


“First World” is an Outdated Term

One of my many pet peeves is hearing the term “First World” throw around incorrectly. I think it is because I was an International Relations major that I give a damn. I cringe when I hear it used incorrectly, but now I am cringing a lot more.

Here’s the entry for  First World in Wikipedia:

The concept of the  First World  first originated during the  Cold War, where it was used to describe countries that were aligned with the  United States.

Recently there is an internet meme going around called “First World Problems,” which is about about whining by the affluent. Now the term is taking on a whole new life.

Here’s an example:  http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/first-world-problems

Here is a site about “White Whine”:  http://whitewhine.com/

The general ignorance of the term “First World” is probably due to the fact that it is a relic of the Cold War. However, it chaffs me even more to hear people refer to Asian countries like China and Taiwan as third world. I even read a popular baby book refer to countries that practice co-sleeping (as practiced in Hong Kong and Japan) as a practice from third world countries! Seriously, even the dictionary.com definitions for First World, Second World, and Third World are all screwy.

ARGH!

My AT&T UVerse Customer Service Hell Experience

The following is a letter that I composed and will be sending to AT&T tomorrow. I will post if there is any response on the part of AT&T. It would be interesting to see if they respond to written complaints sent via snail mail to their executives.

January 10, 2012

Office of the President
AT&T
308 Akard Street
Suite 1110-C8
Dallas, TX 75202

Dear AT&T:

Today I called AT&T UVerse Support, and after 2 hours and 57 minutes on the phone, the simple problem of a mistake in account configuration on your part was finally fixed. The call started around 10AM and ended at 12:57PM. From the very beginning, I communicated that the problem was due to an error in how my account was configured on your end, and while the solution was simple, getting to it was quite a trial in patience and a very frustrating experience.

For two weeks, I had not been able to login to UVerse Mobile or online. The account login did not work as it should have as it did not recognize me as having UVerse service, so I placed the call to AT&T UVerse support. After 23 minutes (with 10 minutes of hold time) of on the phone with someone in India who had issues understanding me and was clearly trying to pass the buck, I was told that since the problem is with UVerse Mobile, I had to be transferred to someone in Wireless and not the UVerse department. I was then place on hold again for a few more minutes before speaking to someone at AT&T Wireless (also seems to be in India) who I spent 18 minutes on the phone with only to be told that the problem cannot be resolved by AT&T Wireless because it is a UVerse problem. She asked me what phone I have and asked me to reinstall the apps (which did not help the issue) then transferred me to another department. I was transferred to an American support technician; however, he was in the Android support department, which was odd because I was explicit that I had an iPhone. I spent another 16 minutes or so with the Android support person who told me that he could not help me and had to transfer me to another department. I was then transferred to a “manager” Sherry (sp?) who spent 20 minutes asking me a bunch of account questions yet again attempted to put me through the automated system with UVerse, telling me she cannot help me, so I asked to speak with her supervisor. Then I spoke with Kelly, who spent 25 minutes on the phone with me while she tries to reach someone at UVerse. She told me that she is sorry that she cannot help me. I asked Kelly if I can speak with her supervisor, but she indicated that it was not possible, so I asked Kelly if she can try to locate someone who can help me and call me back later.  By that time I had to get off the phone because it had been 110 minutes I had spent on the phone on hold and trying to get someone to help me without being any closer to anyone able to help and I was really frustrated. She said she would call back in 15 min. 21 minutes later she calls back to apologize saying that she is having trouble finding the right person who might be able to help me. She then transfers me to UVerse support in India again. This time the young lady tried a few tools that didn’t work so she says she has to transfer me to Tier 2 support. I was on hold for 38 minutes before a Tier 2 support person picked up and spent 15 minutes to resolve my problem. The gentleman in Tier 2 told me that the previous reps did not leave good notes; apparently only one had left some note at all, and it was very unhelpful.

I know that I must not be the only one who has experienced this, because quite a few AT&T reps I spoke with had trouble finding the right person to fix a simple UVerse Mobile problem. Worst of all, I know that most of them were reading a script and not really listening to me. Most of them just wanted to pass the buck to someone else. I literally spoke with 7 different people at your company to resolve this problem. I had been trying to tell them that I believe my account is not configured or registered correctly since I do have UVerse service. It is quite a simple problem and should not have taken 2 hours and 57 minutes of my time to get a solution. At this point I am seriously contemplating whether it is worth it for me and my family to spend the money on cable and internet service when there is such a pain in dealing with support for the simplest of issues. What’s going to happen the next time I need support, for a more complicated problem? Will it take 6 hours on the phone? Worst of all, the only way to complain is to keep talking to the people who cannot help me and who are not listening anyway. This is sad indeed. Apparently my only recourse would be to post my experience on a blog or complain on Twitter. For good measure I did both in addition to sending this letter. I hope that this letter will reach a person that can do something to improve Customer Service. I hope you will respond to me in a timely fashion.

Sincerely,
Irene Shen