Nobody's creekbed

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The Anterior Insula and Hwy W

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Phishing scammers are terrible writers, readers, editors — yet folks get hooked by these texts all the time. Obviously we possess dismal media and technological literacies, but broad critical reading and comprehension literacy is the bigger concern.

The following phishing email is a gem for many reasons, but a special kicker is the dark, ironic, baffling final line "Thank you for your comprehension." Note the first-person voice confiding terror, note the random capitalizations: "We have faced some problems with your account, So Please update your account details." The author speaks to our illiterate, inchoate fears: No one wants to be "Temporary Limited" or de-activated. Just parse the email's title by reading aloud slowly and carefully (the single best writing and reading advice): "Statement account be is available log-in re-activated." The words do not say anything.

This email scam employs familiar, gross xenophobia and racism: Someone in "Mexico" with an "unknown device" has tried to reset your password.  You have been "accessed" and "locked" up. These dark others seek to "disable" you "permanently." Again, just read aloud slowly and carefully: "For security reason, your Apple account was locked until we hear from your." Also note the email address from which this "Apple" missive was sent: "" — acces costumers? An account definitely needs to be verified, but not your account. Do not click. Do not ever click.

Note the recurring use of the 24-hour timeline, a shitty genre television and movie trope. "You Have 24hours To Solve The Problem." Something awful, something horrible looms but you have a slight agency. Act now or you will no longer be able "to enjoy all the benefits." And what are all the benefits we're enjoying? A recurring theme of these texts is the warning that something personal and abstract is about to be lost: freedom, mobility, access, benefits. Turns out these folks are just standard consumer capitalists pitching their products to our marked fear and loss.

It is true that "we have faced some problems . . . So Please" read carefully, critically. Read widely, open-mindedly. Read, read, read. It is a necessary process, a practice to be continually developed. You can start today. Read for pleasure, experience, wisdom. Enjoy all the benefits. The related processes of effective reading, writing, and learning are more than other products we could choose, if we wished, from a lurid buffet of products; these processes are integral to our human being-ness, to our shared, constantly changing existence, to our mutual growth and sustainability. We are getting turned off reading, writing, and learning, and the results will not be good.

We will disable permanently.

Thank you for your comprehension.