8,495 and counting…

That’s how many e-mails are in my inbox at work…oops…8,496 now. There are at least 4,000 on my desktop computer at home and easily another 1,000 on my laptop. And that’s just my work and “home” e-mail accounts. There’s also an account at gmail and one at yahoo.Before you start thinking that I must be the most popular person ever, let me give you an example of a typical e-mail exchange:
Me: Lunch today?

Friend: Sure. Where?

Me: I don’t care. What do you feel like?

Friend: Sushi?

Me: No…had that yesterday. The Mexican place?

Friend: Which one?

Me: The good one…with that stuff we like.

Friend: OK. Noon?

Me: 12:30?

Friend: Sure…I’ll pick you up.

Me: Cool. See ya then.

Friend: Bye.

Me: Bye.

(10 minutes later)

Friend: Sorry, just remembered I can’t do lunch today.

Me: Pooh.

Me: Lunch today?

Friend #2: Sure. Where?

And so it goes. That’s 8 new messages delivered to my inbox.

The question here is not why I have these inane e-mail exchanges, but why I keep them–for years in some cases. This record of daily minutiae is of no interest to anyone–including me. It’s not like some anthropologist is going to uncover my e-mails a thousand years from now use them as the definitive example of life in 2009. It’s not like I need to read them to prove that I have friends.

So why don’t I erase them?

Because I don’t have to. All that unlimited space is an open invitation for unlimited clutter.

My cell phone, on the other hand, has very definite limits. Once I get around 50 text messages, my box is full. The same is true for photo storage–something that really fills up fast when my phone manages to turn itself on and take pictures of the inside of my purse.

But what if I erase something important? What if I erase that message someone sent me two years ago with that recipe I really wanted? Or a cute picture? Or a receipt for something I ordered? Or what if I need an alibi for a murder I’m accused of? (I know…too much Law and Order.)

What if…what if…what if.

But I’m fixin’ to do it. I’m going to clean out my inboxes.

Hope you didn’t send me anything important in 2006 because it’ll be cyber-history soon.

7 Comments

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7 responses to “8,495 and counting…

  1. Niece Whit

    I recently I had problem with my email being “over quota” my inbox was fine, the deleted messages was the problem…..:)

  2. mongoliangirl

    My 74 year old mom has kept every single calendar she ever had and I have 20 years worth of personal diaries of my own. They are full of ‘inane’ details that are now absolutely fascinating to look at. You never know.

  3. Good luck with that. I routinely delete now because it drives me batty to have that much information!

  4. Little Sister

    I have that genetic flaw as well. Mine only date back to 2007. I can’t remember why I even save some of them!! My work email stays clean as a whistle. Maybe you could get your maid to tidy that inbox up for you!

  5. This post hits a nerve. I used to keep every email. I thought of them as correspondence, like the letters that people used to write before email. Emails are our history, they tell our story. I started to think that maybe I was crazy and stopped doing that. When my sister died I realized that I had deleted every email she had sent me. The only thing I had was a text message from her that read: We can go to Whole Foods tomorrow. Are you mad? I kept that “minutiae” until I got a new phone. It was hard to give up the phone because of the text message that was in it.

  6. Mother

    It is probably a genetic flaw (very rare). I keep bank statements and income tax returns “downstairs” for 7 years then it is off to the attic. There is probably 30 years of these things neatly bundled up with receipts, etc – however, the Saturday after Easter the giant shredder will be in town for the day and all of the above is going out there. It might take two trips-will probably throw in some old “Southern Livings” with wonderful recipes and household hints that I really dont need.

  7. The best feeling I got when starting my new job was the empty inbox. I´m trying to be very quick to delete items now, and I´ve already deleted an important one, so that´s the problem. As far as my personal inboxes go, they are full of junk that I never get rid of for some reason. And then when I want to find something really important I have to sift through a lot of the emails like the ones you mention.

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