Saturday, January 28, 2023

Bot Bot Goose

It’s been two days since the last time I had to block a bot account on Snapchat. That makes it the longest such stretch since Christmas.

For a while there, I was getting between twenty and thirty bots a day asking me to put them on my friend list. You can tell the bots from the people fairly easily – they’ve always got a vaguely exotic female name fronting an actual username that includes numbers and multiple uses of the letter X.

I’m closing in on retirement and have been married for over a quarter of a century. I think they’ve misjudged their target, to be honest.

I have no idea why I became such a target for these bots in the last month. It wasn’t that way before Christmas. I don’t even use the app very often – it’s something I installed specifically to communicate with my family since they like using it – so it’s not like I’ve been leaving little digital trails all over the web from posting Snaps or searching for things with the app. I understand that this is just one of those things that goes around on Snapchat, though, and perhaps it was just my turn.

I report them as spam and then block them. It's the digital version of Whack-a-Mole.

Eventually I got tired of that and looked up ways to get them to stop, most of which fell into the “Here’s a set of instructions that don’t actually apply to you because when you go into Settings you don’t actually have that setting and therefore can’t change it” category.

I’m not sure why apps do that.

For a long time I tried to get Instagram – an app I have mostly to find funny memes and vintage photographs, though I do have friends and family there and someday I promise I will actually post something, but for those of you waiting for that to happen my advice is not to hold your breath – to do something I wanted it to do and none of the various settings I was supposed to change actually existed on my account as far as I could tell. I’m not sure what I ended up doing, honestly – large parts of last fall are kind of a blur now – but eventually it went back to showing me funny memes so I’m happy again.

I’m just going to file my recent Snapchat experience under the general heading of “Can’t Have Nice Things Anymore” and leave it there.

I don’t answer my phone unless I recognize the number calling me, since 98% of unrecognized numbers are spam, scams, or telemarketers – three categories that overlap considerably. Phone calls used to be fun. I’m old enough to remember when it was vaguely exciting when the phone rang, because it could be a friend or at least someone actually looking for you specifically instead of a random mark to roll for nickels.

Half the email I receive I delete unread because it either falls into one of the above categories or it is from an actual person or organization I know but has nothing whatsoever to do with me or any of my concerns. At the moment I have six different email addresses – seven if you count the defunct work email that is still forwarding messages to my current main work email four years later – and a once-useful service is now mostly a way for time vampires to try to suck minutes from your life without giving you anything in return, not even eternal undead life.

Too many websites exist solely to put cookies on my browser and sell my contact information to other websites so they can put cookies on my browser and sell my contact information to still other websites. Surely I have accepted all the cookies by now? There can’t be more out there. Maybe?

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with Snapchat. It does serve the purpose I installed it to serve, though, so if the bots die down a bit I suppose I’ll keep it.

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