My Yahoo email id has been a boon companion of sorts for the past 15 odd years now as I started to use it when I had joined my PG course. I don’t use it all that much nowadays as people have moved on from exchanging mails now, so was surprised to notice the huge pile of mails that I had accumulated despite periodically cleaning up my mailbox.
It took the best part of a day to do a fresh round of clean-up and I realized that most of the mails were not personal but were ones of offers, newsletters and updates from familiar ids. They were not spam, the mail filters took care of them, but even my white list was accumulating a lot of junk that was no longer relevant to my current profile.
I started to unsubscribe from these websites and forums and it was quite an experience. My story may seem a bit bizarre to Millenials, who have grown up in the Digital World and would find nothing great about this idea. But I guess it may make a lot more sense for the older folks out there so here goes …
The mailers are genuine and possibly popular as well – we are definitely not talking about the unknown spam hitting you for that is efficiently taken care by the spam filters as well. But times change and so do our profile – as you look at everything with a fresh perspective you realize that you are getting a lot of stuff that makes no sense now. I was on no less than 7 newsletters offering cheap domestic flight tickets to popular destinations – some were airlines themselves others were ticket online aggregators. Sitting abroad, you can imagine how irrelevant these mailers had become to me presently. Then imagine getting mailers from a shopping mall, a local travel website and a popular clothing line shop when you are no longer in the Country and not planning to return for a while. Obviously it makes sense to drop out – you don’t realize the time this saves as they not only send you periodic mailers, they have great offers and sales on for every possible festival that we celebrate so it is just endless.
Next I had joined a host of sites that came up as I finally latched onto my host social networks in Facebook and LinkedIn. These ‘also-ran’ options do have a few old friends and some digital archives, but the fact remains that I have lived without them for years now. I have told myself on many days that I will clean up these dormant networks but never found time to get around it. So finally I pulled the plug on them as well. It was not that simple for often they asked me to use my password to confirm my request and I had long forgotten them. I even went through the pain of regenerating them and finally got myself of the wagon.
The parting experience is of interest as well – smart sites ask you once if you are sure, remind you of what you stand to lose and then wish you a nice goodbye stating they would love to see you again. They usually try to ask the reason as well why you are leaving and offer an easy reminder to link in again. They send you a mail confirmation that your request has been processed. This could amount to a checklist of the basis Net etiquettes that one would wish everyone would follow. Am sure if such sites make sense again then I will hop in without much ado. To remember them I created a folder in my Yahoo mail called, ‘Digital scrapbox’. I can easily retrieve the ones that matter.
But there are many others who don’t know or are not bothered about your presence. They don’t acknowledge, a lot of them are derived relations as you did not subscribe to them but your mail id got marketed to third parties ostensibly with your consent in the long ‘Terms and Condition’ box that you sign up so often without knowing the fine print. They have not bothered about your privacy as well. Thankfully most of the ‘unsubscribe’ link works even in their case so effectively you get off the hook here as well.
It has been a week since I did this and my mail traffic has dropped by half and is meaningful to my current choices. Am very careful on latching onto the next free newsletter, offer mailers to keep myself in loop just in case I might need it. And periodically I plan to revisit my online network and my digital scrapyard to keep things in balance to what is desired and what needs to be purged. It is a never-ending battle, I guess, but having the right tools and a disciplined approach is like winning half the battle.