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On the overwhelming nature of information in the digital age


Date: 11/01/2014

This post comes to you after reading over half of a particularly interesting book, Sycamore, while laying in bed trying to will my mind to shut down.

While the book is on a not-so-far-away dystopia, I choose not to focus on it’s direct literal message, but certain corollaries I find within my own day-to-day existence.

I have 2 e-mail accounts. One personal, one professional. The personal, a Gmail account, is used for signing up for everything, as well as personal correspondence. Well, it used to be for the latter, at least.

Now, with all the information I’m bombarded by (even with clever use of labels), I can barely stand to file through it to clean it up.

I’m not talking about spamvertisements for various eCommerce sites and newsletters I’ve intentionally subscribed to; I’m talking about stuff that one might think is perfectly legitimate.

Accounts for online banking, credit cards, student loan information, even my health insurance and HSA account.. All overwhelm me with digital circulars for my statement, benefits, new features, changes in the terms of service, account activity information, and more.

So much that, even if the e-mail account was dedicated solely to those distributors of information, I would have a hard time keeping up with all of it.

And that’s not including the mass mailers I get along side priority documents in the mail, with little-to-no way to sort the drivel from the dire aside from consuming it.

Each item demands my attention in similar fashion; click-bait titles, stamps of urgency, and matter-of-fact statements set in Helvetica professing that I should do something.

It gets to the point to where even I have a hard time discerning the fact from the flotsam.

For the past year, I actually avoided utilizing the online portal for my HSA account, instead relying on calling an automated phone system to get my balance, so I could avoid the harangue of regular newsletters sharing what is professed to be of vital importance, yet matters little. The only reason I get it now is because they asked me my e-mail address so I could have it linked to my account for the ease of use of the online portal, which I am only choosing to do out of convenience for my mother (whom I’m not afraid to admit helps me keep track of my finances; She’s VERY good at it. Don’t knock having a great accountant for a family member).

Sure, some of these items I can go through and purge of not-so-vital newsletters, but in some cases, I miss out on stuff I do want.

So, I suffer under the weight of 1s and 0s, utilizing clever search techniques on my inbox to bring out the rare bauble from the bile.

Just because you’re saving a tree by sending me that digital newsletter doesn’t mean my sanity will improve.

If I wanted to read your newsletter, I’d go to your blog.

If I wanted to know my balance, I’d look it up.

If I want to enroll in a new cash back program, notify me via my account when I log in that it’s available.

And no, I do not want to subscribe to your vacuous tips on saving money on medical expenses.