Set Your Inbox Phasers on Kill

Captain Kirk with PhaserSometimes when you get older, you have to take your pleasures where you can find them. Even if you live in southern California, which I don’t, you can’t always get to Disneyland. My new equivalent of merrymaking is unsubscribing from e-mail lists.

I had a client until recently whose research requirements took me onto many technological Web sites, which in turn required me to give them my e-mail address in order to see certain content. I didn’t mind that, necessarily, but there seems to be an inordinate amount of sharing going on out there on the Internet, so submitting one’s e-mail has become the 21st century equivalent of writing someone’s name and phone number on a bathroom wall (kids, if you don’t understand this reference, ask your grandparents).

Before long, I had the reputation of an e-mail slut. I would download my e-mail in the morning and three-quarters of it – if not nine-tenths – would be junk mail. A lot of it would be from technology publications, but also places I’d shopped at one time. To be honest, I love the Family Labels web site. You can order return address labels, like for real mail, if you remember that, with little cartoon representations of husbands, wives, kids, dogs, and cats. But really, I don’t order them every few weeks, which is how often I got e-mail solicitations from them. I hit the unsubscribe link on Family Labels.

I like simple unsubscribe links. Click them, and you’re done. I don’t like having to take a survey about why I don’t want to hear from them anymore. I feel like saying, it’s not you, it’s me. Because, just as you say that when you’re ending a romantic relationship, it really is them.

I don’t like having to search for the unsubscribe link. Sometimes it’s couched in vague terms, such as “if you’d like to adjust your e-mail settings, click here.” Yeah, I’d like to adjust my settings. Set your phasers on kill. Did Captain Kirk ever say that? I want to vaporize your e-mail so that it never clogs up my mailbox again.

I don’t like having to put in a password to get into their database just so I can get out of their database. That just seems convoluted. I especially don’t like the unsubscribe links that tell me the password I think I have for them is wrong. This forces me to figure out how to contact them simply so I can tell them to stop contacting me. Look, the relationship is over. There’s no need to perpetuate it. Stop clinging.

I don’t like getting a message saying that my e-mail will be deleted in five to ten working days. Why would it take ten days to delete something? I can do it unintentionally in the time it takes to say “uh-oh.” In the meantime, I still see e-mail from those companies, which makes feel like I’m playing a game of electronic whack-a-mole.

I heartily recommend taking a cold, hard look at the e-mail you get and thinking about whether you really want to hear from these people so frequently (I also recommend periodically doing the same thing with your Facebook friends and your LinkedIn connections). The great thing is, it usually works.

You can visibly lighten up the amount of junk you have to deal with in less than 30 days. I’m already seeing a lighter, more svelte mailbox in the morning. I only wish exercising were as effective.


About middleagecranky

The Middle-Age Cranky blog is written by baby boomer Howard Baldwin, who finds the world, while occasionally wondrous, increasingly aggravating.
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2 Responses to Set Your Inbox Phasers on Kill

  1. janicelbrown says:

    Great post, Howard. I have been doing the same for the last few weeks, and plan do to a “purge” at least every six months. The process is time-consuming (and often irritating) for the reasons you mention. I wish that more marketers would realize that having a simple, non-clingy unsubscribe process might win their brands more fans in the long run. And please ditch the goofy, childish goodbye phrases – a straightforward “Thank you for subscribing. Sorry to see you go, and hope to see you again sometime” works fine.

  2. Carley says:

    Try emptying your cache & deleting cookies you don’t want clogging things up—once a month or as often as you wish. It helps.

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