Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Getting Off Friends' Mailing Lists

I've lost more than one close friend over the years by asking to be taken off mass mailing lists. I've asked politely, graciously, apologetically. The inevitable response? Incensed seething, roiling fury.

I've tried ever since to hone my approach, even resorting to begging and groveling, ala:
"Please don't take this personally, and please feel absolutely free to email me anything personally any time, but, of the several tens of thousands of people I've corresponded with, about 20% sends stuff around to everyone they've ever contacted. Now, I'm not by any means impugning your taste or your fantastic generosity in sharing (you may have saved me a bundle, as, who knows, I may have otherwise sent Neiman Marcus $500 for that cookie recipe!) but this volume is smothering my mailbox, I don't have time to read through it all, and if you could possibly scale back just a tad on the flow of items you so kindly forward to me and to everyone else you've ever corresponded with.....[etc etc]"
But no dice. You can send along flowers, even money, but hell hath no fury like a friend's limericks scorned. 

I figured out a solution, though. It's devlishly simple. Just rig up a second email account (e.g. @gmail.com or @yahoo.com), and ask friends and acquaintances currently sending you mass mailings to send that stuff there
. Tell them that's where you receive all your super-interesting and important subscriptions and such - so you can keep it all close at hand! And ask them to continue sending one-to-one communications to your usual address.

Then ignore that other account. Or blow through it every few days, in case anything personal was sent. Or, if you adore petitions, baby pictures, and "You Know You're a Jewish American Princess When..." humor, you'll know where to dig in when you have time. But the main thing is: you'll never again have to ask a friend to opt you out.

I should note that mass mailing forwards are different from "custom-forwards", i.e. when friends send along items of interest directly to you, or to you and a few other custom-selected recipients, as opposed to stuff automatically sent to an entire address book.

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