Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Data Deluge Revisited: Junk Mail Fall 2018

Before I left, I tried to unsubscribe from all the commercial operations and Worthy Causes I could. Honest. Anyway—
I was on the road and had my mail held 28 September to 18 October, except I got a stuffed mailbox today, 17 October, with, I assume the rest to be delivered tomorrow. The physical mail came in at 2.2 kg, nearly 5 pounds, almost all mass mailings. Some 520 e-mails were automatically filed under Junk, with 374 getting to my In-Box. A number in my In-Box are items I actually want, and I just learned that somewhere in there is a note from a neighbor on the death of her dog, which I really wish I'd seen before I talked to her since she assumed I'd received it. (I don't have e-mail forwarded to my iPhone — for obvious reasons.)
My vote-by-mail ballots may also be in the USPS pile. 
Almost all of the mail parallels TV commercials, ads, pop-ups, blow-ins, marketing, etc.: commercial, political, religious, and charitable appeals for our money, vote, and/or time. A fair amount of the e-mail comes mediated by a firm with the chilling name "Constant Contact," which suggests to me two bratty children in the back seat of a car on a long trip ... "touching, touching, touching" ... and in "constant contact" by voice and occasional seat kicking with the parental units in the front seats. 
So: my votes will follow the advice of my Party leaders (mostly), and I will try to keep my money local: where I can hand over a check and not get my name on more metastasizing contact lists of potential donors. And buy stuff without the same — very much the same — sort of commodification of data on me.
It's a high-class problem to have, being in a position to be asked for one's vote, time, service, support, and money, but if one does not want interminable if not quite constant contact by strangers — or even loved ones! — it is a problem. 
In some worthy national organizations, I've bought life memberships and may send them a few bucks now and then even though I bought what they called a LIFE Membership (they don't replay if you ask how much it'd cost for them to never hit you up again). And I'll continue to give to national and international organizations I know and respect and feel pretty sure have already sold my contact information to anyone likely to buy it. For the rest, "I'm keeping my money local, and mostly political." 
And giving more. But not as generously as it might look, since I'm trying not to encourage the politics and commerce of invasiveness and Mass (the military principle): which means I'm deleting almost all of the electronic mass mailings and throwing into the recycling bin almost all of the junk-class mail. (Almost certain to be trashed: hit letters from candidates who don't tell me their party affiliation or what the hell they're running for. Like, *no one* runs for just the Congress of the United States. What's the State and district? — since I know who my representative is and already contribute to her campaign.)
As scheduled, I received today (18 October 2018) my held mail. It included my Visa bill, Medicare materials, and voting materials for the 2018 midterm election in California and for my Home Owners Association (or "Owners'", for fans of the apostrophe).
The mail hold of some 17 days produced junk mail weighing in at 5.5 kg (~ 12 pounds), in addition to what had been stuffed into my mailbox and reported earlier. It included straight-out commercial materials, plus religious, political, and charitable. No one group was responsible for spamming my physical and electronic mailboxes; the mild harm and figurative pain in my ass was the result of only slightly coordinated group action. (If you know the rabbinic parable, cf. the people of The Wicked City each stealing one brick from the building site for the home of a family they enticed to move there. If you don't, just elaborate on that premise a bit.)
So, again, this is a high-class problem for me, but it will be a problem to worthy causes and for control of waste paper if other curmudgeons just say "Screw it" and start deleting e-mail en masse and throwing out hit letters unopened. 
BTW: I use metric primarily for courtesy and because the scale I set to metric is the one that does arithmetic. Also: The US wrong turn started for me — symbolically — when Ronald Reagan took the solar panels off the White House and abolished the United States Metric Board.

No comments:

Post a Comment