For the most part, I’ve never spent enough in shops to be pestered into signing up for a store credit card and the accompanying junk mail, and I’m such a handful in restaurants that most places immediately strike me from any special-offer mail-outs that might tempt me back. They just want to be rid of me. So I’ve mostly escaped the global database-sharing epidemic that results in most of us being spammed into submission (spending money we don’t really have on things we don’t really want).
Over the past six months, however, the tables have been turned: once smug, I now find myself inundated with a barrage of spam SMS. Recently my pallor has been a deep puce, darkening with each rage-intensifying, unsolicited text message.
At first, they turned up one by one. I didn’t mind so much, until one day everything changed. On holiday in a different time zone, I was besieged by no fewer than seven messages in four hours, telling me about ‘great deals’ on everything from Manchester United ringtones and pictures of Wayne Rooney (I’d be surprised if there was heavy demand for the latter), discounted pizzas (great, but not at 3am), back-to-school stationery (I’m all set for HB pencils, thanks) and, most bafflingly of all, CCTV surveillance equipment (I don’t plan to moonlight as a private detective just yet). I’m equally perplexed by messages that offer me the opportunity to have callers hear a song instead of the usual ringing – why would I care what they hear? If they want to listen to chart hits, they can get a radio.
Much as I enjoy complaining (as friends, colleagues and long-suffering family will attest), something had to be done. As I’m quite attached to the convenience of friends knowing my phone number, I decided against the kerfuffle of changing it, and decided to try to contact the marketing manager of each relentless purveyor of spam. To my ecstatic surprise, six of the nine I contacted removed me from their lists, and two weeks later I’m pleased to report my colouring is now 66 per cent restored to its natural pallor. What of the remaining three? I’m not sure when I’ll stop being invited to empty club nights or alerted to baby clothing sales for my non-existent children, but if nothing else, I can sustain the illusion of being outrageously popular for a little while longer. Or at least until everyone I know reads this.
Holly Sands is our Body & Mind, Sport & Outdoor and Community editor. She uses a soundbite from the film Despicable Me as her text message alert – we hear it a lot.