Yesterday, with just a couple of exceptions, every email I received was an email I wanted to receive.
There were messages from friends and coworkers; I’m always eager to hear from them. There was one message from the library telling me my checked-out books are due; I appreciate the reminder. And there was a message from Amazon.com telling me that an author I like has released a new book. I like hearing about that.
But for the most part, I no longer receive emails from Kohl’s about their online sales or from Henry Fields about the free shipping on flowering trees. I never used the recipes from Stoneyfield Farms, so I won’t miss their newsletters each week, and I don’t even shop at Victoria’s Secret. I bought a gift card there. Once. Do I have to get their daily emails?
Actually, I don’t. There were a lot of emails I never read cluttering up my InBox each day. So recently, I went through a week’s worth of junk email — all the ads and newsletters I had apparently signed up for at one point – or not — and following the yellow brick road of “Unsubscribe” I cut them off. Now, with the exception of a few stragglers, my InBox is filled with only the messages I care about.
Streamlining my electronic life is just the next step in my year of “empty.” Since I spend hours each week on my laptop, my virtual space needs the same intentionality as my life offline. Just because it’s measured in bytes and pixels doesn’t mean I don’t waste time with it or create idols out of it.
I’m sure I signed up for some of the email newsletters I now longer get because I wanted to be the “first to know.” The advertisements and sale flyers that cluttered my inbox created the same sort of discontent, covetousness, and envy that I try to avoid in television commercials. And the hundreds of work documents, downloaded pictures, and other old files I deleted, why do I insist on hanging on to these things?
Although cleaning up my online presence didn’t protect me from hackers, it is one more way to protect me from myself and to prepare me for the kingdom.