Why I Hate My Inbox

Remember when “You’ve got mail” was a pretty exciting thing? I remember very well my first AOL experience. There was that weird dial-up connecting sound followed by the announcement that I had mail. In those days, email was like receiving a letter from a friend, only faster.

In fact, there was a 1998 movie “You’ve Got Mail” starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as the adorable people they always play. They meet in a chat room on AOL and have an anonymous online romance, but in reality they are business rivals. Of course, they are unaware of the latter fact, but don’t worry. Things always work out for these guys.

But I digress. Back in my AOL days, email came from folks I knew who wanted to communicate something. Etiquette dictated that I respond to the messages they were sending me. But somewhere along the line, things changed dramatically. Now when I want to communicate with people I actually know and get a timely response, I have to text them or send a Facebook message. Email has become something else altogether. I have grown to hate my inbox.

Having to delete over 100 emails every day is so annoying that I understand why my kids have moved on to texting. I used to love email for communication, but since the 2016 campaign, I have grown to dread the number that grows to frightening heights next to the mail icon on my phone. I can never catch up. Reading my email has become a part time job.

And just what is in there that fills my inbox on a daily basis? Yesterday, I received emails from my “friends” Robert Reich, Elizabeth Warren, Claire McCaskill, Nita & Shauna from UltraViolet Action, the Mikva Challenge, MoveOn.org, Credo Action, Grandmothers in Action, and Daily Kos (to name a few). They implored me with words like: “open immediately” and “I’m pleading” and “women could lose coverage” and “all hope is lost.“

Then there is my special friend, Jon Ossoff, who was running for Congress in Georgia. Granted the election was the next day, but ten emails with headlines ranging from “sounding the alarm” to “Oh. My. God.” to “serious” to “five times match”? And my special favorites, “I keep emailing” and later “I’m sorry” for so many emails”. I must have given the DCCC $25 once to support him. Despite the constant barrage of emails, which must have worked because he raised an enormous amount of money, he lost. But really, these emails only made me feel weary and guilty.Today, I’m wondering if the fact that I deleted them without reading the content caused him to lose. Plus I hate that folks have to raise this kind of money to run for Congress – but that’s a different post.

I’m sure you can tell my political leanings by now, but I suspect my friends on the right are similarly being inundated with countless political emails. Then there are emails from things I never asked to receive and from which I keep trying to unsubscribe: Eddie Bauer Adventure Rewards, Marriott Rewards, TheaterMania, Quicken, Holmes, The Walking Company, Brave New Films…the list is endless. Somewhere amidst the 50+ emails I received since 7:21 yesterday morning, I did find one from a friend.

There are causes buried in the crush of emails that I really care about, but I wave the white flag of surrender. It’s just too much. It’s easier to delete all of them than to consider which ones deserve my attention and donation.

Before the election, I expected to receive some emails asking for my support. But I never dreamed the numbers of pleas would have increased ten-fold since Donald Trump’s inauguration. I know. Resist. Stand up. Be part of the process. But part of me longs for the old days when “You’ve got mail” meant I would be hearing from a friend.

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