It feels wrong to rant on Christmas, but I'll have a go for those of you who aren't big on holiday cheer.
Maybe this has happened to you:
get a newsletter from a fellow author (assuming you're an author, I
guess) and you ask yourself, "Did I sign up for this person's mailing
list? Nope. I didn't even know they had one. I'm 100% certain I
And yet I'm getting this marketing email. Why?
this person is someone I know. A friend or acquaintance, maybe someone I
was in contact with about something or other, an author I helped or
swapped blogs with or offered a guest spot at Donuts and Desires.
they signed me up for their mailing list. Without my consent. So now
I'm receiving this email about "yay my new book is out and you should
buy it, blah blah blah."
I'm not complaining about
newsletters. I send out a newsletter... to the 19 people who have
elected to receive it. Nobody else. Just those people. I never have and
never will add a business contact's address to my marketing mailing
list, and to be perfectly honest, I lose A LOT of professional respect
for those who do this to me.
And it's a lot of people! Enough that I'm ranting about it on Christmas.
you've been into the eggnog, you're probably going, "Who cares? Just
unsubscribe and get on with your life." And I do unsubscribe, but the
point is that I shouldn't have to. I don't subscribe to ANY mailing
lists with my professional email account (I have other accounts for
that) because it clutters things up. If I haven't elected to receive
your emails, you're spamming me. Dirty word, but there it is.
probably sounds especially cruel when some of the people I'm talking
about are people I regard(ed) in a friendly/professional/acquaintancey
way. I feel like I've placed my trust in them and they've betrayed me.
Same goes for whoever gave/sold my email address to an LGBT PR mailing list.
I'm queer. Yes, I'm an author with a blog. But I'm not a blogger nor am
I a media outlet. Do I want to receive press releases about every
goddamn sissy weekend in the Poconos? No!
(I'm not saying that flippantly or picking on sissies--I really do get these press releases. Every one of them!)
worse, PR mailing lists get sold off to whoever has the money to buy
them and the PR people sending me PR emails don't use programs that
allow the receiver to unsubscribe. The only way I can *hopefully* get
them to stop emailing me is to contact them directly and say "please
take my address off your list" and risk looking like a dirtbag. I cross
my fingers and hope they'll actually do it, but not ONE PR person has
There's another angle to this whole
passive consent thing I want to cover really quickly (let's hope--we'll
see) and that has to do with television and advertising. This is
something I encounter a lot, living in a big city, and I don't like it.
the Oprah Network (OWN) was gearing up to enter the Canadian
marketplace, they set up a couch in the square outside Toronto's City
Hall. I think they were trying to create some CanCon (Canadian
Content), and there was a film crew with an interviewer trying to draw
passersby into a conversation for whatever show they were producing.
know this because I happened to be walking through the square when this
was going on. It's not unusual to encounter film crews in Toronto, but
usually if you cut through their shot they yell at you. This was
different. There was a sign that read something to the effect of "by
entering this area you consent to being broadcast on television."
walking to CITY HALL on CITY PROPERTY, I consent to appearing on your
show? No. If you ask me, "Do you want to be interviewed?" and I say,
"NO," my words are moot because I've already provided passive consent
simply by walking by.
This is where passive consent
gets scary, to me: when some entity tells me that by the time I've read
your consent form, I've already given my consent.
encountered this sort of thing again at the CNE (Canadian National
Exhibition, a big fair that takes place every summer): there was a food
truck alley going on, and one of the food trucks belonged to Hellman's.
They were giving out something, I think for free, I think fries--I don't
know. I didn't go anywhere near the truck BECAUSE there was a sign
(easily missed in a crowd, I might add) that stated by approaching the
truck you are consenting to potentially appearing in their advertising
No. No, your free fries are not payment enough to appear in your TV and YouTube spots.
you're going to complain about anything on Christmas, it might as well
be this. I'm really tired of the assumptions professionals and
organizations are making about what constitutes consent. Consent is
saying YES. Passive consent is no consent at all.
And if you're really bummed out by this post, I put up a short story at Donuts and Desires as a little "Merry Christmas" to readers. It's called Bad Bad Naughty Bad Santa: A True Lesbian Sex Story.