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JONESIE: Sorting fragile secrets one email at a time

April 18, 2014 - 7:31 AM

Sorry, Mrs. Lee, I’m not returning your email. Nice try, but you know darn well I didn’t place an order with your shipping company.

I won’t be hiring programmers from India, either. No, I don’t need your SEO. I don’t care if he's a Nigerian prince, I am not giving you access to my bank account. And I realize this is subjective, but I don’t need creams, pills or devices to enhance my baby-maker. Thanks so much for thinking of me.

So goes my email spring cleaning. Nearly 8,000 emails.

Yep, you read that right. And those were just the unread emails.

Since I got my first IMAP email account without a size restriction (email done right) I’ve used it for everything. It’s long been my word processor, where I take my notes, gather my thoughts and write stories. I email them to myself so I can store them, search them and access them again from anywhere. Everything is in there.

I've been cloud computing since the early 2000s. Who knew that would be a thing?

Only now I have accumulated some 25 different email addresses all available in a moment through one inbox and it requires cleaning now and then. My email program was grinding to a halt, buckling under the weight like George Costanza’s wallet, waiting for one last byte to make it pop and explode all my stuff across the Internet.

Sifting through it takes me back through old grocery lists, phone numbers, kids’ report cards, patent applications, contacts, business plans, free-writing, notes, ideas, old family pictures and entire books.

A couple of years ago, my email did go pop. Shortly after Apple rolled out iCloud, some dude from California had three hours with my sent mail file, dumped into his inbox. Apple called it a ‘mis-route’ of my account, like it was a moving truck that made a wrong turn and dumped my stuff at the wrong address. In Burbank, California.

For a few hours, he had access to everything me. 

I’d wager everything you need to know about a person is in their email. All I know—really know—about my own father comes from his email account, now also in my inbox. I stole his password and hacked into it after he died. I could push past the lies he and everyone else told and there I found some truths. I found he was fascinated by simple stuff, had a sharp wit and a tight, distinct writing style with no real reason to develop one. He was always chasing a buck, chasing an idea. Chasing his own father, really. I learned what I needed to know.

I wonder how my email stuff appeared to the stranger from California, had he bothered to read it and not call Apple to come get this stuff off his lawn. The only email he referenced was one I sent to Steve Jobs, so I knew he told the truth. No one knew I emailed ideas to Steve Jobs. Oh, he never read them. But I still sent them.

Never mind California Kurt. Some day, after I lay my head on my keyboard for the final time, my own sons will have access to the snaking email trail of my life. What will they discover in there to inform their opinions of their dad?

A daunting 20,000 emails, of course. No one will ever file through it because I’ve already shown my age with email nostalgia. I’m old enough to have an expectation of privacy with my digital scrapbook.

I doubt my kids will understand that by the time Generation Selfie truly blossoms. Theirs is a generation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram where every thought, idea and feeling is for public consumption. Except it’s all lies and staging for a life you wish you had.

I know the truth is in the email.

— Marshall Jones is the editor of Infotel News.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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