Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Upon A Trip to the Mailbox

Did you know how much more you could have with our other services...?
Do you know how much you could save by switching...?
If you want to sell your house...?
Twenty percent off, this weekend only!

Junkmail seems endemic to life now. I wonder sometimes, in more wistful moods, whether anyone has actually figured out whether it is worth it. You assume it must be, because it keeps coming. I get solicitations from the same two realtors every month, both under the same company banner, both with the same form letter. Often they arrive on the same day. That sort of precision brings to mind automation. Is there a program or robot out there endlessly spewing out form letters to the same mailing lists, or is some human responsible. Or is it two humans following the same procedure, perhaps at the behest of another human. I suppose I'll never know, because I'll never bother to find out. They send me mail I don't want about goods and/or services I don't need that can be purchased with money I shouldn't be spending. And I put it into the recycle bin. One circle of modern life.

When we went online, it came with us. In this there is definitely automation. The sending of it is automated. The disposal of it is automated. And it morphs over time as one side of the automation fights the other to get it to or keep it from your eyeballs. Web technologies brought tracking capabilities to give us "targeted" ads that were supposed to eliminate the junk. But it seems they haven't learned to lead the target. I see you have bought some pants. Can I interest you in some pants? No. No you can not.

I don't really get mail from humans anymore. Except at Christmas. And then it's often a copied mini-newsletter, automation rearing its head again. Take a picture, upload the list, you don't even have to touch your own cards anymore. Efficiency. Email killed off letters. Texting cut down on phone calls. Messaging cuts into both texting and email. Social media allows content to be broadcast; a view into the everyday thoughts, large and small. One they have managed somehow to get us all to opt in for. Inefficient words are usurped by emoji and pictures. Pictures expanded to gifs and video. And yet, there is more text and writing than ever before. Communication abounds, expands, becomes manifold, becomes noise, becomes junk.

Contentment is such an elusive thing. Happiness remains the art of picking the wheat from the chaff, focusing on the positive rather than the horrible or the terrifying. Seeking solace in the everyday banal miracles, the inching forward movements. Convincing yourself that the question "what do I want to do next?" is a source of hope and empowerment rather than a acknowledgement of fear. And this is what we do, each and every one of us with our own personal struggles. Trapped in our own heads, looking out at the world, and hoping not to misinterpret too badly. And yet we all remain inextricably tied together. Not just by words and pictures, but through action (and sometimes inaction). Together we move everything forward. Together we sift through the junk.

One trip to our various mailboxes at a time.

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