There's spam mail, and then there are those emails that you might have actually signed up for at one point (intentionally or unintentionally) that are from legit senders but still come to feel like spam because of their frequency and overall unwantedness. You know the ones: "Flash Sale at GAP!" "20% off your next Proflowers.com bouquet!" "Social Media's hottest trends!" "See who's looked at your LinkedIn profile!" and so on and so forth.
They're the online equivalent of this:
Over the years I've managed to get myself onto hundreds of these lists. And every single morning, at least 40 messages roll in when I first check my Inbox. Usually only 1 of the 40 is from an actual person I know. The rest of the messages I delete without even opening.
So in line with my goal of trying to simplify life in 2015, I didn't delete any of these messages over the past few mornings so that I could actually click into each one and hit the "Unsubscribe" link. I've done about a dozen per day, and man, does it feel good to be "weeding the garden," so to speak.
Most "Unsubscribe" pages had a note stating that it may take a few weeks for my email address to be removed from the sender's database. And a few such pages didn't work at all, which I know from my days of working for The Man is in violation of the CAN SPAM act (I'm lookin' at you, Fannie May Candies!).
But I'm already starting to see a difference. This morning there were only a measly three messages when I logged on.
And then I caught myself.
"A measly three?" Isn't this what I wanted—to NOT have to blindly delete dozens of emails every morning? But here I was feeling a little deflated about it. How could this be?
I think it's because we've kind of become trained to equate our Inbox with our importance. Look at me! At right this very second I have 11,350 messages in my Inbox, and over 2,000 of those haven't even been touched! I am like sooooooo busy and important and in demand, aren't I?
What's that, little devil sitting on my shoulder? You're noticing that about half of those unread messages are FROM MYSELF and consist of one-line reminders along the lines of "get dog food," "buy lightbulbs next time you go to Walgreens," "turn water heater setting down," "make dentist appointment," and the like?
And you're now informing me that the other half are messages I actually did read the entirety of on my phone but then never deleted out on my laptop? Or they're from CVS telling me about ANOTHER $5 off coupon if I refill my prescriptions soon... or they're old order confirmations from Amazon that I've let pile up since 2013? Um, yeah. Not so important after all.
I know I'm going to have to get used to this "new normal." I admit that it's thoroughly sad and loser-ish to actually have to go through any sort of adjustment period that's related to no longer getting a bunch of junk emails. I also admit that I'm the human version of Pavlov's dogs: I get excited when I see that an email has come through. Because there is always the chance that it's from a real-live friend and then I can use that message as an excuse to stop whatever halfway-productive thing I was working on.
I'm not proud of any of this. But admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?