Out with the old, out with the new

For years, I’ve been using a Gmail account for all my non-essential email correspondence. Over the years, the service has become both more user-friendly and more privacy-unfriendly. One of the more helpful features in my opinion was when, a few years ago, Google decided to divide their Inbox into categories. In my case, into Primary, Social and Promotions. It keeps me from losing sight of the emails I want to read amids the endless spam from promotional mailing lists. A cunny little trick from Google to enhance your user experience while making you less inclined to unsubscribe at the same time. Because, hey, who cares about all of those mails, as long as they don’t get in the way of reading the important stuff, right?

Well, I do.

This weekend, I decided to unclutter my mailbox. I had been slowly unsubscring from mailings lists over the past month, but the endless stream of new messages made this a disorganised undertaking. So time for a new plan: ttrash the bulk of my Promotions and Social folder, and then unsubscribe once emails start to come back in.

Turns out, I had to throw out over 100,000 messages in (84,500 in Promotions, close to 18,000 in Social). Most of which, I had never even opened. WOW! That was way more than I expected, and I kept visualing what it would look like, had all this spam come through the mailbox. Probably, I would have made sure to unsubscribe way sooner. I think Gmail was a bit shocked as well, as the system became kinda glitchy when I tried to empty my trash folder. I also wondered about the costs of all these messages (just because it is not paper, it is not financially or environmentally neutral) and how much money has been made by companies from selling my e-mail address. Food for thought.

Today I started the task of unsubscribing from whatever trickles in. Since this morning, I’ve unsubscribed from at least 30 lists, and kept a mere 3. It feels delightfully liberating to have an almost empty mailbox view. It also makes me eager to start the same process on my Primary box. Google is smart, and the overview window does not show me the number of emails in Primary. Seeing that deleting 100,000 mails brought down the total % of available space used from 17% to 11%, I’m guessing there could be as many as 200,000 messages. Or way less, seeing that spam usually has way less content and is smaller in size than personal emails.

To be continued….

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