Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Junk Mail Deliverance

Long time readers know that last year I collected then analysed a 3 month sample of the junk mail flyers that clog up Singapore's mailboxes. It's mostly real estate related with agents or (claimed) buyers looking for people who are selling up. A smaller set of junk is delivered direct to one's door where 3 or 4 different items are rolled up and stuck in the security gate's scroll work.

I find this more intrusive, but no more effective. My current use of the glossy flyers is as disposable plates when feeding the white cat downstairs but we are getting ahead of ourselves. Some people install a basket outside their flat door for newspapers (or other deliveries such as bread) so their flyers get thrown in there as well.

I wondered if the students delivering this stuff would leave less junk if I displayed a explicit lack of interest in reading it and devised a simple experiment. I took anything left in the gate and pushed it into the gap between the gate's frame and the door jamb. There they stick out as flags of indifference, a totem of ignored junk mail. At the experiment's peak, I had 5 vertical feet of junk mail and had to scrunch the early stuff up together to make room.

The proposition to be tested is whether turning junk mail into trophies of contempt would discourage further deliveries. I've been running this experiment for a couple of months now so it's time to write up the results: it makes very little difference, maybe 1 in 5 times I see other houses with new junk and mine without.

There's definitely a sense of shame on the part of the students. With my door open, I see them come round and at my door they stand to one side and quietly sneak it into the edge of the gate, trying not to be noticed. But mostly, they still deliver. They'll be on piece work and their motivation is to complete the job without hassle from the paymaster. What care to them the attitude of the householder: extreme indifference or total indifference?