Over the past few years my email-box has become a magnet for unsolicited and unwanted messages from strangers begging for money, or signatures, or signatures and then money. These unwanted assaults on my privacy represent an electronic tsunami of pleas and encouragement to support candidates and causes upon whose success reportedly rests the fairness of the republic or the habitability of the planet.
Sometimes I am moved to sign a petition, or make a donation - but generally I hit delete - unually without even reading the eloquent plea. I delete unwanted messages dozens of times a day - and toward the end of the month when all of the artificial deadlines begin to kick in, I delete in excess of two hundred messages a day - often multiple emails from the same sender.
It's like waking up in the morning to discover that that trash truck dumped in the front yard - rather than picked up. So disheartening, so disgusting, and so unnecessary.
This week I began a campaign to fight back. As time permits, I have forsaken deleting in favor of unsubscribing. My first target was PayPal, a service that I have not used in years but which still feels the need to email me multiple times per day. PayPal hit me with a barrage of nonsense which appeared to be intended to get me to give up my efforts to unsubscribe. They offered me a nuisnace-lite, or a promise of fewer emails if I wouldn't pull the plug completely. Then they asked for a detailed reason for why I wanted to leave their aggravating service. (That was optional, so I didn't respond - but I could have cited the time that I spent over two hours on the phone to PayPal trying to speak with a human - and failed.) When I finally finished slogging my way through the PayPal unsubscribing process, I got a notification from the ill-mannered behemoth informing me that I had been succsessful and my "subscription" would end in ten working days. (If they would hire a few humans, it might speed things up a little.)
The process of "unsubscribing" almost makes it sound like I am leaving a service that I sought out in the first place. Only in the rarest of instances did I go looking for contact with some of these organizations. Most found my name and email address on mailing lists that were either being passed around or sold to eager beggars. Yet, to get rid of their rising tide of junk emails, I must be the one to exert the necessary effort to jump through the unsubscribing hoops.
You dumped your trash in my yard, so excuse me while I take a couple of days to shovel it out in the street.
So far I am managing to unsubscribe to four or five beggars a day. That's not a lot, but I am already beginning to see the difference. Wasserman Schultz is gone, and that by itself is worth the effort that has gone into this house-cleaning project. "End Citizens United" I'll miss your three or four daily communications - not! Julia Brownley, so long. Hasta la vista, Ed Markey. And Bill, Chelsea, and Hillary - you might as well go ahead and assume the position - because you're next!
Cleaning my house would be so much easier - but not nearly as satisfying!