You’ve Got Junkmail!

You’ve Got Junkmail!

“You’ve Got Mail” was playing on TNT the other night. The 1990s movie reminded me of the long forgotten sounds of the AOL modem dialing up, followed by the sound of the static with the occasional shift in tones. And who could forget the yellow AOL man notifying me of the progress of my connection. It is only soon thereafter, that I would be greeted with”

“Hello! You’ve got mail!”

Inside the AOL mailbox on the top left corner of my screen, would appear a yellow envelope, waiting to be opened. It was exciting to think that sometime between now and my last log in; a message was written and sent exclusively to me.

I cannot precisely put my first AOL experiences into words; however it was very apparent that I, along with everyone else, had a certain preference for AOL. The joy of immediately sending and receiving messages had everyone excited about this new technology. It’s too bad that this joy has fizzled away over the past decade.

AOL’s once bright sheen has lost its luster and seemingly, its customers. At its apex, AOL topped search utilities and boasted some 30 million customers. That once faithful base has dropped 30% since 2002 leaving them with no choice but to target the growing broadband market, and offer free email sets like Google, MSN and Yahoo. Can AOL email win back it’s shine?

Receiving AOL mail used to be the best feeling in the world. Nowadays I have to keep myself from screaming every time I see that I have 10+ junk messages in my inbox. I can’t stand the hassle of cleaning out my cluttered inboxes, or having to deal with the problems that arise with having a spam filter. The spam filter is meant to prevent encountering spam, but in reality, already important emails slip into my junk-mail folder, creating in addition another inbox for me to have to sort by.

According to CNET, “In June, spam made up 64.8 percent of global e-mail traffic,” that’s up 6.9 percent over May. Going by this rapid trend of junk-mail mania, it doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing down in the near future.

This idea of regularly receiving junk mail is known as “phishing”. According to, “Phishing occurs when a malevolent individual sends you an email that imitates a authentic website, such as your bank or eBay, with the hope that you will be fooled.” With over 65% of all emails today being labeled as spam, it is hard to imagine any email as truly being authentic.

What was once a safe and effective communication tool has not only become a nuisance, but has also opened up a wide window of opportunity for hackers and scammers to crawl by. A insignificant decade removed from “You’ve Got Mail”, email has become a chief portal by which cyber-criminals are able to directly reach an unsuspecting mass and dupe them.

Unfortunately, the general public appears to be unaware of the dangers that lurk between the lines of code that make up their email. They keep ignorant to the different forms of protection necessary to safeguard their email.

I found myself being envious watching Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan effortlessly talk by email as if it was just the two of them online. How lucky they were to not have to worry about someone snooping in on their conversation, or whether or not their computers could get hacked by opening an seemingly “harmless” email. They were able to indulge in the true character and purpose of email; rapid and efficient communication. But alas, we are now stuck in a technology age where a plethora of hackers are out to catch the naïve user.

In the past, nothing was as depressing as hearing the silence of an empty inbox. If I nevertheless had AOL, that silence would be embraced and welcomed. Hearing that once enthusiastic voice: “you’ve got mail!” is now just an invitation to become a victim to the criminals of the digital vicinity.

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