Yes, I use GMail. No, I don’t need you to teach me filters.
So, Google, in a questionable move to “assist” you in managing your email has moved from the passive (here’s how to use our awesome filters!), to the slightly helpful (and we’ll tag things for you in three different ways and sort it via SmartLabels!) to the Facebook-screening authoritarian (we sort your stuff in tabs if you don’t sort things already. You will like it). This has resulted in every single bloody company that uses email to communicate to send an email to their subscribers with an “@gmail.com” a message saying “don’t miss our email! take action now!”
I understand it is the holiday season and that many of these companies want that share of your wallet. I understand we’ve had a downturn in the economy and the overall wallet – especially around the holidays – may be smaller. But one of the fastest ways to irritate the living crap out of me is to tell me I MUST do things in order to get things from you.
I discovered filters before there were smartphones to chirp at us every time we got an email. I would have GMail open as a browser window (and later as a tab, once that became a thing) and Google was nice enough to tell me when I got email. This was important as I worked somewhere with cruddy cell service and people who would need to get information from me but not enough to call me at my day job. Email kept us connected. But, given that I had one email address all of my vendor relationships were also through that email address and I kept notifications and it would just be about an upcoming sale. I didn’t care about that at that second and wanted to stop getting told every second someone wanted my money or my time. Filters saved that.
There have been many improvements – like unlimited filters – that have come since then. I also understand Google’s strong desire to be helpful by creating these filters for people who don’t have the time or inclination to bother. A girlfriend of mine had something like 5k emails unread in her inbox. If that was me, I’d be on the floor twitching. Heck, I get bothered by having outstanding unread emails in my Promotions folder and I try to only clear that out twice a day – and only at a computer. I get that by creating three major filters for an inbox that Google has done something amazing for many people who want to sort emails from loved ones into a single view and maybe only glance at the Promotions (buy me!) and Social (I haven’t figured out how to turn of FB/Twitter/Instagram notifications via email) when they’re in the mood. But the audacity of some of these companies to presume that I may “miss” their latest deals if I don’t have it delivered to the Primary box implies that a sale on shoes or coffee is as important as the email from my family trying to orchestrate Thanksgiving dinner is insane.
I spend enough time looking at my phone when it beeps at me saying that I have new email – either work related or people I actually need to stay in touch with in my personal account. I don’t need someone who is just trying to tell me I can save money somewhere I spend money is having a sale. I get these emails so that when I am willing to spend money at this location, I can save a few coins. Occasionally they tell me of things I didn’t know existed or the deal is good enough to make me spend money I would have spent there anyway earlier than planned. But overall, emails from these places belong in the Promotions filter.
Just because America is a consumerist society does not mean that consumerism should be our Primary focus. Family, friends, things we love doing. Not you with your buy-me-now alerts.