My Emails Were Erased, and I'm Having all the Feels
I’m not someone who lets go easily. I hold onto things. Not in a “my cat was crushed to death under a pile of old trash in my living room” kind of way, but in more of an organized, methodical vein. Old magazines are aligned side by side on a shelf in my office closet. Shoe boxes hold decades of cards, notes, and missives, while accordion folders contain every piece of artwork my son has created.
My hoarding is particularly bad in the digital realm. I have documents going back to jobs I held over a decade ago. I save nearly every email that comes my way; receipts, school updates, notes from my husband — they’re all filed into digital folders.
I have no idea why I can’t seem to let go of this stuff, much of which I almost never touch. Part of it is that nagging sense that I might need it someday. I mean, what if I go back to fundraising five years from now and there’s a quandary and I realize that excel spreadsheet I created in 2007 could really come in handy? That excel might be the difference between an organization making its annual goal or going under.
Personal items are even more of a challenge. Just the thought of tossing a note from a loved one makes me anxious. It’s like my brain thinks that letting go of things means letting go of people. If I don’t keep that email that my friend sent in 2012, it’s as if the conversation never happened. Some part of me insists memories aren’t enough. I have to keep all the things to prove that I was important to someone that one time. That I mattered. That my experiences were real.
I know it all sounds ridiculous, and all I’m doing is wasting space and creating clutter. But it’s really hard for me to let go.
So, you can imagine how I felt when an entire collection of my ephemera was erased without my knowledge.
Yahoo Stabbed Me in the Back
Yahoo was once my primary email provider. I used it for years. Per my tendencies, I saved all correspondence, arranging items into folders — Mom, Friends, Work, Recipes, etc.
Then Gmail came along, so I made the switch, but I kept Yahoo as a secondary account. I mean, it held years of communication with friends, family, and colleagues, past and present. There was no way I was going to get rid of such a gold mine.
I logged into Yahoo now and then, but for the most part just let it be. My Gmail address and phone number were saved in my Yahoo profile, so if the team at Yahoo needed to reach me, they’d know how to find me.
Then last night, I logged into Yahoo and saw this:
In fact, all folders were empty. And the personal folders—the ones labeled Mom, etc.—were gone.
Needless to say, I had an epic meltdown.
I tried getting answers from Yahoo’s “help” section, but it wasn’t much, you know, help. Apparently Yahoo only wants to help if you sign up for their Yahoo Pro account for $4.99/month. If you don’t want to pay, you’re on your own.
So, I sent a message to Yahoo’s “Customer Care” account on Twitter. About an hour later, I received the following:
Awesome. I didn’t log in for a bit, so Yahoo deleted everything without telling me. No “log in within the next week or your account will be marked inactive” warning notice. No “we’re going to erase every digital memory you’ve saved” heads up. Just…gone. Erased. Without my knowledge.
I’ve since found threads of other Yahoo users raging about this very same thing, so apparently I’m not the only one. I guess it’s a new business strategy or something. “We can delete your stuff without telling you and then act like it’s NBD.” I’m sure it’ll work out really well for them.
Maybe It’s Not a Bad Thing?
Let me be clear: Ethically, it is a bad thing. Removing any user’s data without their knowledge or consent is just appalling, and the fact that Yahoo seems to be doing this to multiple accounts just shows how little regard they have for their customers.
But I am realizing that as angry as it makes me to lose so much, it’s also a bit…freeing? I mean, now and again I think of an email I know was saved in that account and I get a pang of sadness. But how much can I say that information meant if I wasn’t looking at it more than a couple times a year? How critical could those emails have been? Most of the people whose correspondence was saved are still in my life, and the rest…well, maybe it’s a good time to let them go.
Given that Yahoo’s super helpful “Customer Service” team says I can’t get my information back, I have no choice but to look on the bright side of things. I now have a couple thousand fewer emails clogging up my digital space. I feel a little lighter.
While I was waiting for Yahoo to Tweet back to me last night, my husband and I watched an episode of House of Cards. Toward the end, Freddy, a character who is forced to make a significant life change, says:
“I ain’t one for looking back. Eyes ahead.”
His words stuck with me. I think I need to be more like Freddy. No looking back. Eyes ahead. Let go of the clutter. Release the emotional attachments.
And log into Gmail every single day, lest my account is marked “inactive.” I’m not falling for that again.