The day the bullshit died

ibdlogoMany, many years ago, I joined this near-sounding service called InBox Dollars. The premise was that they sent you between one and more-than-one e-mail message a day, you clicked on the ad in the e-mail, and, depending on the ad, you’d be credited about a cent in your account. Sometimes, it was more money if it was more than just clicking on the ad. Sometimes they wanted you to fill out a survey, watch a video and share your opinion, etc. As I recall, the highest reward was a dollar, but you had to jump through on-fire hoops to get that.

At the time, it was a very attractive notion. I don’t recall my financial situation then, but it must’ve been not-great if I were looking at this kind of service to supplement my income.

Oh, and there was a bit of a catch. You had to net $30, not including the signup fee, before you were eligible to get a check. How long did it take, on average, to get a check?

About a year and a half.

Oh, yeah. You were clicking e-mails several times a day every day for a year and a half for thirty lousy fucking dollars.

Shit.

Thing was, once you got into the couple-dollars range, you kind of had to keep going. I mean, shit, they owed you two or three dollars! You weren’t gonna let them just keep that!

Worry yet not. There was a bigger, much better incentive to use this service. No, not awareness of new, you-relevant products. No, not the chance to share your opinion and shape everything from the movies getting made to the games getting made. No, no. It was far, far more important than that.

You got e-mail.

I didn’t realize this amazing benefit until after I cancelled my membership. In fact, I kind of hated myself once I cancelled it because of how big this benefit was. Why was getting stupid, bullshit e-mail from a faceless corporation basically cheating you into watching bullshit ads so fucking awesome?

You got e-mail!

See, what I realized was when I saw my little NetZero indicator (this was when NetZero was a thing) telling me that I had one, two, or even ten new e-mails, even though I almost always knew that it was all InBox Dollars crap, it was still e-mail.

Still e-mail!

For one split second, sometimes even two, I felt a little surge of excitement. Almost the kind of excitement we heteros get when we see that the girl we like knows that we’re alive. It’s that fraction of social recognition. You matter enough for someone (or rather something) to send you an e-mail.

You matter!

It’s almost like getting a Christmas gift several times a day! Sure, what’s in the box is just strips of pee-soaked newspaper, but you still get to open the box! You get to find out what’s inside! That whole process of anticipation and discovery is great!

And when I ended my membership, it was gone.

Oh, I moved on. I got over it. I got to a place where I no longer cared that InBox Dollars didn’t give a shit about me anymore, but there were a few long, painful days when I opened my e-mail service and there was absolutely nothing there.

Nothing.

Empty. Blank. No new e-mail. And let me tell you, there are few things, even the net equivalent given the fact that it’s just junk e-mail, more lonely and pathetic than an empty e-mail inbox.

A couple of weeks ago, I publicly pronounced that I wasn’t gonna engage with ad hominemers anymore. The conversations always devolved into flame wars, nothing was gained, and it was always a little exhausting–the adrenaline-rush anticipation, the adrenaline-rush confrontation, the adrenaline-rush satisfaction in getting in that fantastic turn-of-phrase jab!

Due to this decision, I dropped three conversations in a week. Three.

One with A Hermit.

One with Rystic.

One starting with some other guy on my Left-Behind-games video.

Three.

That’s three times fewer conversations, e-mails, and iPhone buzzes of new notifications all gone. Gone. While I’m glad I’ve stuck with my decision, I’m almost a little sad.

Bullshit e-mail is still e-mail.

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