Opinion: You’ve got (a lot) of mail


“Thank you for calling,” mollifies the monotone automated attendant, “the number you have reached has a mailbox that is full and cannot take messages.” What are we supposed to do now? How can someone be so inattentive as to not take a moment to delete a few older communications? In our mind’s eye, we see the physical mailbox at the curb stuffed with paper, exploding from its open door and piled upon the ground. Is the good homeowner on an extended vacation and neglected to notify the U.S. Postal Service of their prolonged absence? Are they trapped in their home, fallen and unable to get up? Should we notify the authorities? Happily, it rarely comes to this predicament. Most often, folks empty the tin can on a post at driveway’s end with some regularity. Many even enjoy the walk and retrieval.

In these digital times, we have come to relish less the incoming ping of “You’ve got mail,” often discovering in it more annoyance than joy. Routinely, callers are met with an outgoing voice message that proclaims – this mailbox is not monitored, and the interaction will not receive a response. Maybe they want us to text them. Maybe they are simply information overloaded. The crammed inbox rejection is a defense mechanism from the endless onslaught of interaction.

Last week, Microsoft shared that a personal account was dangerously close to running out of space. It reported 400 megabytes available out of 50 gigabytes (if you ask, the internet tells us that to be about 0.8 percent). How is it possible? The calendar goes back awhile, and the old messages list is lengthy. But still, how did it get so bad? Could it be time to let it overflow? What’s the harm of locking the door and hiding inside? Would anyone even notice?