I have unsubscribed from more than 30 mailing lists over the past 24 hours. Some of them were from people trying to sell me things – daily “flash sales” and “exclusive offers” were flooding my box, increasing my sense of urgency. That’s no surprise – they are designed to do that! These “24 hours only!!” emails are supposed to make my heart rate increase, and my anxiety go up a notch – to send the message “click here and start shopping, or you will foolishly miss out!!” When the products hold no interest for me, these emails are merely annoying – making it harder to find the messages I actually want to read. When the products are instead the very sort of thing that I covet, it actually takes time out of my day – a minute or two of struggling with my conscience, which is reminding me that I don’t actually need what the email is insistent that I “BUY NOW!!!”
Retailers aren’t the only ones sending these daily urgent messages. I unsubscribed from environmental lists, labor movement lists, feminist lists, and all manner of other social justice lists too. It is much harder for me to purge content that I actually care about and believe in! But even though I agree that there is lots that needs improving in our world, I simply do not have the time – much less the emotional energy! – to engage in 10 or more disparate “URGENT!” actions in a day.
Each of us has a “to do” list, whether we write it out or not. I was allowing more than 30 people to add items to that to do list on a near daily basis.
I had an Aunt who collected music boxes. When I was a kid, my sister, brother, cousin, and I would try to get them all going at the same time – it made quite a noise! One by one, the music boxes would wind down and their music would stop. When we got tired of running around and restarting them, then the noise would get less and less, until there was one single song slowly playing, and then silence.
But email marketing just keeps going and going – it doesn’t wind down like a music box. In order to have less noise in my life, I had to take action. Already, peeking into my inbox has become a lot less stressful.
I know that God wants us to care for the world, and to live in it – but if I am going to listen for God’s voice, I am going to need to quiet all of the other voices – at least once in awhile.