I visited my family "back east" for Thanksgiving and had my US mail held for thirteen days. The postal service delivered my mail yesterday, and today I sorted through it, keeping a small number of catalogs that might prove useful for winter holiday presents — "Put Saturn back in the Saturnalia!" — plus appeals from worthy causes I might contribute to, plus a bill, a notice from Medicare of a whopping increase over this year in what I'll owe them in 2017, and one piece of hand-addressed, actual mail: a Christmas card accompanied by a succinct Christmas newsletter.
The rest of my mail was pretty pure junk and weighed in at 5.4 kg, or nearly 12 pounds.
The e-mail in the formal Junk file on my computer was in the hundreds.
I live alone and don't order all that much on line; I do give to those worthy causes, both charitable and political, but not excessively.
So: If you're looking for reasons why many Americans are turning off, tuning out, and at least partially dropping out of real-world communal life, add the data deluge and exhaustion over appeals for our money and (less often) time. I've decided the best thing to do with all those demands for my attention is to ignore almost all of them.
And so I'm closing out this post to toss into the recycling bin two substantial bags of various kinds of mail I refuse to deal with. And in this conscious narrowing of attention I am not alone.