Back when I was writing for the very local newspaper, people would occasionally tell me I whiffed of H. L. Mencken, in a vague salute to my general crotchetiness and cynicism. Mencken was actually a nasty supercilious man who, despite his intellectual agility, must have never hefted a barbell, since among other things he disparaged chiropractors, something no weightlifter would ever do. He did say one thing that seems sadly true: no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.
If the election season weren’t enough evidence for that perspective we have Internet advertising. I am assembling a short digest of e-mail subject lines that drive me away from the product.
Anything that is “Madness” (Monday Madness, March Madness, whatever) I will run like hell from. If it’s Spring, I will smell the flowers but I will not spring into savings or anything else I am being sold. Sneak Peaks will be ignored (there is a delightful account on Twitter called Stealth Mountain whose owner has somehow automated Tweeting of the phrase “I think you mean ‘sneak peek'” to anyone who makes this dispiriting error). If it is a weird trick, whether it involves belly fat, wrinkles or auto insurance, I will not only not click on your ad, I will scream obscenities at it.
“Hurry” is another one that guarantees I won’t. I said a long time ago that I would not rush for Jesus Christ, something I phrased that way because I was talking to someone who actually believed in the Sacred Godhead Of Jesus Christ, and I mean it. For a bathroom, in some circumstances, maybe. I am sure as hell not going to drop everything I’m doing because some marketing department wants me to feel urgent.
You political assholes need to take a clue too. If your e-mail is headling “BREAKING,” meaning the other side just did something awful and you want me to wring my hands about it (and send money), I will delete it. I have already read the news, and decided if it means I need to contribute anything to anyone. Cute little no-caps subject likes like “got a minute?” go down the Delete Drain too. For one thing, they look too damn much like spam, especially since they’re always from the unknown name of someone inside the campaign and not clearly marked as being campaign e-mail. The horrified superlatives will guarantee I don’t click either. “Insurmountable?” No, just ignorable.
Oh, and if it’s “Exclusive”? So “Exclusive” that I don’t recognize the company advertising and am left to wonder from whose list you bought my e-mail address?
That unsubscribe link at the bottoms of messages you get from a legitimate company, it’s a wonderful thing. Don’t make me use it. Any more than I already do, anyway.