My primary email address starts with my full name and ends with “hotmail.com.” Hotmail started in 1996 and was phased out by 2011. That gives you some idea of how long I haven’t really cared about my email address.
I’ve had passing thoughts about changing it, but the task seemed too great. I’d have to notify all my contacts, update the contact info for all my online accounts (banks, shopping, etc.), and perhaps set up some sort of temporary forwarding system to nab any straggler contacts I’ve long forgotten about. Why bother?
You’ve probably seen those news stories pop up about hacks or breaches. Some kid breaks into say the Target database and steals a bunch of user info including email addresses and credit card numbers. Well, to find out if your email address has been hacked, go to haveibeenpwned.com and type in your email address. When I entered my trusty Hotmail address I found I’d been victimized several times over.
The other indicator that your address has been stolen or maybe sold to strangers is the amount of spam you receive. It’s impossible to avoid all spam, but if you’re like me and notice amazing amounts coming in, it might be time to abandon ship.
Back when I first created my Hotmail address, I thought it’d look more professional when applying to jobs if the address contained my full name. Looking back, I realize now how silly this was. I can picture a recruiter remarking to her co-worker, “Hey Bob, this guy is exactly what we’re looking for! Oh, wait…his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. So unprofessional! Oh well, another one for the shredder!” In reality, all I’ve done is make it that much easier for internet strangers to learn my real name. With a more random email address, I can be just a bit more anonymous.
Over the years I’ve accumulated tons of online accounts, many of which I don’t use anymore. Changing email addresses is one way to ditch all those unwanted random shopping accounts you’ve signed up for like that one you found several years ago with terrible grammar in their marketing copy and no phone number selling the most amazing pair of socks you’ve ever seen in your entire life.
Maybe you’ve also never bothered to delete any emails and you’re amazed you still have an email thread from your college days begging MySpace tech support to re-enable your account after being locked out because your roommate thought it’d be funny to log in as you and post questionable pictures from last night’s rager. A new email address means you can sweep all those old messages under the rug and instantly go from hoarder to Inbox zero.
If you use a free email account like Gmail or Outlook, realize those services aren’t actually free. You pay with your loss of privacy. These companies mine your emails for data then use that information to market you or sell that information to third parties. Ever notice how advertising seems suspiciously personalized? If you’re like me and value time over material possessions, you have zero tolerance for companies consuming your time and attention trying to convince you to buy that latest pair of compression ear warmers. The less they know about me the better and the more time I have to enjoy life.Tags: junk mail minimalism privacy security