Stand back, imma fix email

Why people hate their email but also why they should love it.

I think it’s a crime that not many people subscribe to The Sizzle. The idea of paying $5 a month for it still scares lots of people away. Which is crazy, because for $5 you get immense value from the desk of @decryption. I referred my mate Nick to The Sizzle and he said “The Sizzle is one of the best things I regularly read. Can’t believe I didn’t know about it til now.” In that group chat another friend replied “Most people hate email. That’s a huge hurdle.” Which is true, but I have a theory about email.

People saying they hate email is like people that say they hate church. There’s actually nothing wrong with church as a building, an idea, the gospel as a whole is a good guide for living, it’s just that some people have majorly abused elements of church. Seriously, please stop, Christians. So should we burn church as a concept to the ground? Churches don’t kill people, people kill people. Or something like that. Should we burn email to the ground?

On the “burning email to the ground” note, a recent episode of Hemispheric Views interviewed Rob from Fastmail on the topic /cc @hemisphericviews @canion @martinfeld @burk

IMHO it’s the same with email, emails aren’t bad, but the way people use email can be bad.

I look at my mate Ash’s iPhone screen and see the red badge on his email app and it terrifies me. What’s the current unread count, Ash? The thing is, most people don’t love their inbox because it’s their internet yard … and most people don’t like looking after their own backyard.

They like going to restaurants where waiters bring the food and take away dirty dishes. We like going to public parks where the council mows the lawn. We love theme parks where the employees maintain the rides. In this analogy, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Apple News, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, are the third parties.

It turns out our homes & our yards are pretty cool, we just need to invest into them, maintain them, clean them, and if we do, we might enjoy living in them, and we can do whatever we like there because it’s our backyard.

Email is the backyard of the internet. Your inbox is yours, you own it, and most of us leave it to rot because it’s not on public display and most people won’t see it.

  1. Hit the unsubscribe button on as many emails as you can. Be brutal, if you miss it, you can go back and resubscribe, but you don’t let just anyone camp in your backyard.
  2. Have a personal inbox, hopefully on your own domain, so you’re not beholden to a big tech provider. I recommend Fastmail, or for my personal email I use iCloud/MobileMe/.Mac, I have for maybe 14 years.
  3. Separate work and personal. Get personal emails in your personal inbox, work in your work inbox. Don’t look at your work inbox if you’re not working.
  4. Explore other email apps, technologies, and plugins, like Spark or Sanebox.
  5. Listen to this episode of Mac Power Users to get a little jumpstart on email.
  6. Regularly check your spam fodler and mark as not junk or move it to your inbox so the junk mail filter learns what is good and bad. On GMail learn how to use the Promotional tabs etc, and even disable them if you like.
  7. Actively look for emails to subscribe to. If you do have emails you love to receive, share them as a reply to this so others can experience the joy of receiving good, nice, helpful, relevant emails in their inbox.

Here’s my mostly up to date list of emails I subscribe to.

Email is one of the few agnostic, device-independent, big-tech-independent, communication channels that you can easily and lovingly own. Learn to love it. Mow your internet backyard, and maybe even do some landscaping.