If you have hundreds of unread emails, texts, spam, and see non-stop ads all day long it’s time you should start cleaning up your device.
Cleaning up your device by removing a lot of regularly occurring spam will help you immensely. Companies use marketing emails to make you buy more than you need and to expand their brand awareness–it’s usually not for you. Further, taking time to delete emails can feel exhausting. At some point, it may feel best to just give up and let the spam flow on through.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way. By taking a few simple steps, you will immediately see a slowdown of spam. I did this months ago, and by this point the only emails or texts that I get are exactly what I need/want to see.
Note, this will not stop illegal spam. If you are getting spam texts about joining a Bitcoin trading group or insider secrets to get rich quick, that is already illegal and not much can be done besides blocking the number and moving on. But, following the steps in this article WILL help clean things up, make things faster, and make your life smoother.
STEP ONE: Clean Out Your E-Mail Inbox
Spam emails make up 45% of all the global email! It is a legal requirement that mailing lists have an unsubscribe button in the USA and Europe, and most companies will support it outside of this region. Instead of deleting all of the spam emails, we are going to make sure they never arrive again.
At some point, I went from getting e-mails about class and from friends to getting hundreds of spam emails a week. Some people I know get even more. It’s ridiculous! What happened?
Well, every time you’ve signed up for something, you probably didn’t un-check the “send me marketing email” box that is hidden away on websites. It’s not your fault, they used statistics and human psychology to implement an opt-out versus opt-in which severely impacted your choice in the matter.
However, not all hope is lost. Let’s clean out your e-mail and make sure that these marketing messages disappear!
Cleaning Up Your Device: E-Mail
Open up your inbox, and find your first marketing email. If you are like most people, it will probably be right on top of your inbox.
Now, there is something super sneaky and pretty secret about these emails. You are able to click a button and unsubscribe from them. For ever.
All you need to do is scroll to the very bottom of the email and look for some text that says “unsubscribe” or “Update E-Mail Preferences”.
They are legally required to do this: Nationwide, spam mail is regulated by the CAN-SPAM Act, designed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The legislation institutes rules for marketing emails and proclaims penalties of up to $43,000 for violation of these rules.
At the bottom of the DoorDash marketing e-mail, for example, this is what it looks like:
Do you see it? Right there in the light grey text it says “unsubscribe”. If you can’t see it, don’t worry. Soon you will be able to spot them from a mile away, it just takes some time to build the habit. Clicking on this link will open up your web browser and take you to a website where you can unsubscribe and NEVER receive a marketing email again.
DoorDash makes it nice and easy, clicking the button will unsubscribe you immediately. Sometimes, it’s not so straightforward. There may be many different buttons and some companies make it as confusing as possible to unsubscribe.
The law, however, requires the following:
The sender has to provide an opt-out option for the recipient—It can be in the form of an Unsubscribe button or a Change Preferences link, but it has to be clear and conspicuous
The company has to honor your opt-out request—If you unsubscribe, the company has to remove you from their email list within 30 days
I personally do not receive text spam, but fortunately it’s also very easy to unsubscribe. Here’s an example so you know what I am talking about:
“You’ve signed up for texts from Earth Harvest! Refer friends and get $10 off your next purchase for each friend who signs up with your referral link www.yourreferral.com/KSharpe”
“Love Books is holding a reading this weekend by a local author, you can RSVP to attend in person here: www.localwriters.com, we’re still offering virtual attendance too.”
To me, text messages are a sacred place. They’re pretty much the only notifications I have on, excluding phone calls, so if I get a marketing text it’s straight to “STOP”
Thank you US Government, yet again: The TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) is a federal statute enacted in 1991 designed to safeguard consumer privacy. This legislation restricts telemarketing communications via voice calls, SMS texts, and fax. And yes, they updated it in 2015.
- Telephone service providers can offer robocall blocking to consumers.
- Telemarketers may not use automated dialing to call wireless phone and leave pre-recorded telemarketing messages without consent.
- Consumers may revoke consent to receive calls or SMS messages in any ‘reasonable’ way, at any time.
- Callers must cease calling any reassigned phone numbers (wired and wireless).
- Consent ‘survives’ when a person ports their landline phone number to a wireless number.
- Some ‘urgent circumstances’ still allow a company to call or send SMSes to wireless phones without prior consent, such as alerts about potential fraud or reminders of urgent medication refills. However, the company instigating such communications must offer consumers an ‘opt-out’ option.
If you reply “STOP” to ANY of the text marketing spam, you will instantly be unsubscribed. Try it!
Further, you should be signed up at https://donotcall.gov/ yet another government program. If you aren’t go ahead and read this from automated text software company Twilio:
The TCPA restricts telephone solicitations (i.e. telemarketing) and the use of automated phone equipment. The Act limits the use of pre-recorded voice messages, automatic dialing, and SMS and fax use. Without explicit customer consent, companies must adhere to strict solicitation rules, solicitors must honor the National Do Not Call Registry, and subscribers may sue a company that does not follow the TCPA guidelines.Twilio
Notifications are also detrimental to your wellbeing. Long-forgotten apps say “open me!”, shops say “Hey this is on sale!”, it’s relentless. If you are getting any notifications on your device besides text messages and phone calls, it’s long past the time to be cleaning up your device.
My phone, for example, only buzzes when I get a call or a text. That’s it. These $500+ smartphones are the most sophisticated tools we have access to on a daily basis, sending information around the world at the speed of light–seriously.
They are built with advanced processors. Even the old iPhone 5C, which can be had on eBay for $60, is stronger than the computers used to land on the moon. The technology is miraculous. Stopwatches, timers, photos, cameras are all default. You can send a message to any other phone in the entire planet! It’s incredibly powerful, but often forgotten.
These devices are now used for mass marketing. Apps can buzz your phone at any time, as long as you allow notifications. So, we will be going through settings and disabling notifications.
Cleaning Up Your Device – Smartphone Notifications
For this, you must venture into the Settings app. Inside settings, there is a “Notifications” tab. This place is extremely powerful, as most devices will not let apps send notifications if they are disabled. What I recommend is to go through this list of apps, and disable them all. Notifications aren’t usually helpful, and while you may be able to ignore them, they’re still impacting your subconscious–the place advertisers strive to work in.
Notifications are usually very customizable, and simply clicking on the top switch “Allow Notifications” to the off position will prevent you from ever getting a notification again.
You can also disable them on the lock screen, disable sounds, and disable “Badges” AKA the red circle with a number that shows up in the corner of an app’s icon. To me, badges look quite ugly so I don’t have them on–except for messages and phone calls.
The other options here are not as important, sounds vibrate your phone on silent, grouping makes them look nicer, and previews let you see the content of the notification on the lock screen.
You can customize this as you wish, but for most of your non-important items like shopping apps or whatever, just turn them off.
After cleaning up your device, you won’t miss them!
If you are getting strange notifications on your laptop, they’re probably coming from Safari/Chrome/Internet Explorer/Firefox/etc. To disable them, you will need to check online for tips and tricks.
As you go along through your life, you will inevitably put your email or phone number down on things. They will almost always have a small box, usually pretty insignificant, but it will already be checked or filled in. It will say something about marketing or email lists, and you can safely un-check it to prevent the spam from ever hitting your inbox.
Finally, you cannot unsubscribe from everything. Instagram emails, for example, require you to log in. Simply logging in and then going through a few hoops in settings will land you on a notifications page to unsubscribe. But, you can also just delete your Instagram account like I did and live a life free from social media. It’s possible, and it’s wonderful. Cleaning up your device is a great first step.
Having spam in your life will keep you from living a happy life. If you spend all of your time looking at emails, texts, and notifications talking about shows you should watch, things you should buy, and other things you “need” to do, how could you ever have peace of mind?
As I’m sitting at my desk, my phone is silent. Not a single notification on the screen, and when there is a notification, it’s a missed call from my family or a lunch invite texted from a friend. It’s so simple and beautiful. I don’t have any FOMO, nor any pressure to buy anything that I don’t need.
The whole point of this blog is to show you that you can be happy without so much tech wastefulness. Everyone who reads this blog has a phone in their pocket. Simplifying your tech life is a lifestyle choice that will result in a greater life satisfaction and better peace of mind.
Going social media free, dedicating more time to cooking, and saving money by buying fresh fruit and simple foods has changed my life. This morning, after going on a run, I had sliced oranges, banana, a small yogurt, and toast with egg. It cost me a total of $1.5! You don’t need to spend a lot of money on things, nor immerse yourself in technology to live a good life.