Advice from 18: Let's Talk About Spam

Gabrielle Martinez

Like a cockroach, the word "spam" seems as if it will remain until the end of the world, and then some.

Initially, this four-letter word indicated the creation of spiced ham in the late 1930s and its popularity boon later during World War II. 

However, the topic of today's conversation is anything but about cooked pork.

Spam is something everyone with access to the internet has encountered, whether you've realized it just yet or not. It's continuous and infects texts, emails, and every single social media platform to this date.

The word "spam" has many variations of meanings within "internet talk" today, but it used to most commonly be defined as phony messages or advertisements sent out to massive groups of recipients, typically through email. 

While the word now does have slight variations of definitions within different platforms, the concept of annoying ads that intend to reach a wide scale is still prevalent to every meaning of the phrase.

So, the first question on everyone's mind is most definitely: "What does 'spam' even mean? Is it an acronym?"

The answer to that: nope. It is literally in reference to, you guessed it, the brand of canned ham mentioned earlier.

The nickname is sort of a tribute to a specific skit from Monty Python's Flying Circus, where a restaurant serves every single breakfast meal with the addition of lots of Spam. 

In the two minute sketch, the word "Spam" is repeated one hundred and four times (yes, I counted) to describe the meal options and is sung again and again by the cafe's Viking visitors.

So if you didn't get it at first, spam is something that has the main goal to repeat and annoy.

Internet spam utilizes this technique effectively and everywhere. The messages are typically headlined with flashy capitalized exclamations saying that you won a cruise, or they are illustrated with interesting pictures guaranteeing extreme weight loss in one week.

This is all with the intent of getting the viewer lured in enough to click their link. In turn, these links typically take you to poorly-made and unsafe websites where you can read gibberish, and the creators make money.

What do you gain from this? If you're lucky, hopefully, nothing. If you aren't lucky, probably a computer virus.

But spam isn't just those weird articles on your Facebook that are oddly enough about what you were just talking about earlier.

Spamming can also allude to repeating the same moves in a video game that unfairly affects disadvantaged players.

It also can refer to a user liking or commenting on someone else's content so consecutively that the original poster finds it hard to ignore.

This type of spamming can essentially be conveyed as the technological version of that one scene from Shrek 2 where Donkey asks "are we there yet?" for 800 miles straight.

The concept of these multiple forms of spam can admittedly seem a little confusing, but I found it most effectively summed up in yet another children's film, Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet.

Without spoiling too much of the movie or becoming a Rotten Tomatoes critic for kids, I can wholeheartedly say that the creator's utilization of pop-up spam characters trying to distract Ralph with "Get Rid of Belly Fat With This One Weird Trick!"  and "Sassy Housewives Want To Meet You!" is spot on.

So how do you defend yourself from these nuisances of spam? 

Whatever you do, do not click on the link. 

While you may want to see which child stars went to prison or claim that iPad you won like the headline promises, it's not worth the potential repercussions of having your computer sacrificed or information stolen.