Human Spam—Best Blocked

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What do we do when spam enters our e-mails? We delete it, and we tend to do the same—or should—for the human version Austin Kleon writes about, as association with this type of people is constricting.

This was my takeaway from the discussion of “human spam” in chapter 7 of his book Show Your Work! E-mail spam isn’t beneficial, and neither is human spam.

Kleon describes human spam as people who are uninteresting, applying writer Lawrence Weschler’s definition of interesting to label human spam as people who are not “curious and attentive” individuals and ones who are without the “continual projection of interest” (131). Human spam do not not give a darn about the work of others, promoting only their own while seeking more followers, readers and fans with solely their own interests at heart.

Human spam corrupts collaboration between people and smothers the fire of mutual benefit that can be kindled through a network of people with similar professional strengths, jobs and passions.

It is the work of these people—whom Kleon calls “knuckleballers,” or “the people who share your obsessions, the people who share a similar mission to your own, the people with whom you share a mutual respect”—we can promote, and, in turn, that will hopefully promote our work, too, so we don’t have to be a virus of human spam fixated on just our own.

Here is an example of human spam, as well as an interview with Kleon on the subject of human span.

No Spam

Block Spam and Carry On


mkozma's picture

Hey Gavin!

I really liked what you said here about human spam being about how some people view their work as above others--I think that this is very true for a lot of people on social media sites who feel the need to brag about their accomplishments or market their own personal work on their profiles. I personally think that some social media sites have a sort of different purpose and I'm glad you brought this up.

Thanks for sharing!