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?Speared' by annoying, suggestive e-mail ads - Greg Gelpi

Advertising has gone mad. The other day I received an email from someone, a person who makes it a point to dress modestly as prescribed by her religious beliefs.

Plastered along the bottom of the message was a link to view Brittany Spears' latest video.

For those who are fortunate enough to have musical tastes that steer clear of pop music such as Brittany's, the record industry is selling her body as much as selling her music.

She parades around in her music videos wearing just about nothing?and, oh by the way, she sings too.

I know that companies are able to provide email only through advertising money, and that the email provider put the link to Brittany on the email without the knowledge or consent of the sender, but that certainly crossed the line.

Indecency is one thing when we have the right to choose whether or not to view it, but another when it is unknowingly crammed down our throats.

I'm not going to claim to be a marketing guru, but back in the crevices of my memory is the term "target market," the idea that you direct marketing at a particular group of people most likely to be receptive to your message.

I guess that went the way of the abacus.

Between popup ads and junk email, I'm buried under a cyber-mound of trash, blanketed with suggestions to enhance my feminine appearance and to lose weight.

For the record, I'm 100-percent male according to doctors and I must grab hold when a gentle breeze happens along so that my 130-pound frame doesn't get swept away.

It's no epiphany that junk email and popups are just that n junk. But, a distinction should be made between annoying and morally offensive, not to mention just plain illegal.

I get a chuckle sometimes when a popup urges me, a 25-year-old guy, to purchase Viagra.

How amusing is it, though, when children receive the same messages? How many of us chuckle when an email or a popup message advertising porn invades the computer of a child?

Annoying? No doubt. But, we must not lose sight of the more important issue. These blind marketing campaigns plaster their messages anywhere and everywhere their electronic fingers touch with no attention or concern given to those who receive these messages.

Free is good, but there is a cost to free email and a cost to surfing the Net.

Greg Gelpi covers schools and government issues for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.