Yesterday, I opened my inbox to discover I had 627 new messages. This was interesting to me, given that:
• I am not important.
• I am not popular.
• I don’t especially like to shop.
• And I am not overly interested. In general.
But, somehow, over the course of a year, my incoming mail has become an onslaught. And so, I find myself smack dab inside Unsubscribe Season, during which I scrutinize every email I receive and decide whether or not to breakup forever with its sender.
For me, this season begins when I start to look forward to every single email I receive, simply because there is the potential for being cold-blooded.
Once I am in this mode, I hardly give anyone a pass.
Williams-Sonoma? Perigold? Frontgate? Pottery Barn?
I don’t care how pretty your linens and housewares are, get out of my life and stay out.
Gap, Macy’s, Old Navy, Banana Republic?
Why do you email me every other day? You’re behaving like a pathetic ex-boyfriend. Go.
Why isn’t your website better? Get out.
You’re not that cute. Begone.
Petco? Petsense? Chewy.com?
You’re not as easy as Amazon. Hit the road.
After I make these decisions, I am invariably taken to a page in which the sender either doublechecks that I’ve clicked the right button or tries to convince me not to do what I’m about to do. This can happen in four ways.
The first is a page that confirms the unsubscribe and tells me I won’t be contacted again. Good. Clean. Strong. Thanks, filtersfast.com, you get it.
The second way relies on cute.
“Are you really, really sure you wanna leave us? Because we’re really, really gonna miss you.”
The message, written in some jazzy, see-how-fun-we-are font, is often accompanied by a Japanese-animated panda bear, or something else equally manipulative, blinking sadly at a virtual ground.
This approach has absolutely no effect on me.
Am I really, really sure?
More sure now than ever.
The second approach involves sending you to a complicated page in which you have to carefully navigate your unsubscribing options. As in, what about if we just sent you two emails a week, would you stick with us then? Or what about if we only sent you emails about our hottest sales?
In this instance, the Unsubscribe to All option is usually buried in the corner at the bottom, which I dig for with increasing distain for the company.
The third kind of unsubscribe page is gaining in popularity and, probably, has the most effect on my decision making. It relies heavily on passive aggression and works like this:
Unsubscribe here if you do not want to save money and have a better life.
Unsubscribe here if you’re uninterested in dressing well and being pretty.
Unsubscribe here if you prefer to die alone.
Up to you, the unsubscribe page says with its fed-up hands up in the air, it’s your funeral.
Granted, this approach does give me pause. Not because I believe sticking to the sender will give me a better life, but because I kind of admire the fact that he/she was willing to stoop that low to keep my business.
I have other weaknesses, too. I almost never have the heart to unsubscribe from a food e-newsletter, which means The New Yorker, Smitten Kitchen, Fine Cooking and Bon Appetit are constantly flooding my inbox.
I am resentful of the frequency the Marriott Visa people email me but am too scared to unsubscribe from them lest I never hear from them again — even if my Visa gets hacked or they decide to offer me thousands of free points.
And I won’t reduce the frequency Ibotta emails me, even though it is far too often, because I’m hopeful it will finally get me more competitive with my team members about saving money.
With Christmas shopping on the horizon, it’s likely that I will be subscribing to a whole new bunch of websites. For example, I just gave Bark Shop my email address this very afternoon because they have a doggie toy of a Chinese take-out container filled with dumplings that are actually plush squeaky toys. And that was totally worth it.
Also, I do recognize the irony of welcoming in the upcoming holiday seasons, which focus on gratitude and giving, by first being ruthless in Unsubscribe Season. But even the Grinch was grinchy before he turned good.