Hard on the heels of digital device deprivation syndrome (DDDS), every shade of digital addiction (DA) and technological inadequacy (TI), comes news that some people may be building up problems for their psychological well-being in the future because they have become ‘email hoarders’.
It could become as serious as people who allow their homes to overflow with litter and detritus because they ‘cannot bear’ ever to throw anything away, that ‘might come in useful’.
Do you throw out redundant emails from your inbox, or do you hoard them? Do you set your trash not to clear automatically so you are building up a massive library of personal records of your life?
It seems that more people are hanging on to emails. Microsoft’s Hotmail carried out a survey (March 2012) which concluded that 10% of users never delete an email. Almost 40% are happy to use their inboxes as ‘a digital record’, anxious to ‘hang on to memories’.
Seems hard to believe when the average inbox is expected to receive nearly 15,000 emails this year, and a good ten percent of people admit to ‘inbox anxiety’ about how they can manage the endless flow.
Evidently consumers are choosing to take more newsletters updates on top of basic emails and spam. Either that, or more people are neglecting to opt out when given the chance, so receive stuff in torrents.
One trick many mass circulators do is to send out advertising to a given email address they have found or bought (eg. firstname.lastname@example.org ). If that subscriber asks to ‘unsubscribe’ from future emailings the nuisance company will agree (although it can take up to 28 days to unsubscribe! One can only ask why?)
Another annoying thing they do deliberately is to send you another email just to ‘confirm’ that you will no longer be receiving any more emails from them. Grrrr.
So, that address is no longer of use to them. Instead they make subtle changes. Now spamming in the name of email@example.com,uk and Johnsmith@business123.co.uk and firstname.lastname@example.org and JOHNSMITH@business123.co.uk and ANYOTHERTHING they can think of @business123.co.uk spews out, each having to be unsubscribed from separately.
After a time, many receivers just give up and just let it accumulate in the inbox, often feel powerless to cope with it. But managing the flow somehow is not just necessary business practice and the key to well-being (sanity), there will have to be even tighter rules on invading people with advertising material by email, phone, leaflet or snail mail if the whole thing is to remain practicable at all.
People can choose to opt out of some of the paper river that flows through their letter boxes, and some of the phone calls can be cut of by the Telephone Preference Service. However, neither is totally effective. And advertisers-pushers are incredulous that anyone should voluntarily opt out of ‘hearing about the very latest offers….’
The fact is that that kind of mass advertising, blanket blitzing works commercially or companies wouldn’t keep doing it. It must work online too. Enough people must read an email from a company they have never heard of offering to solve something, sell something, put the business on some essential directory list or do something else magic, that they send their financial details to India, the US or somewhere quite unidentifiably to total strangers.
Image: Benjamin LISAN