Why I Delete Click Bait

A little rant about emails with false or misleading subjects.

I just got one with the subject line “Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” The message went on to say that Justice Ginsburg would not be confirmed by the Senate today. On the one hand, that’s undoubtedly true. Mitch McConnell, the true subject of the email, probably wouldn’t allow any nomination like hers through, but he won’t get a nomination like hers and we can hope there won’t be a need for any Supreme Court nomination before the election. On the other hand, it’s a pointless argument and a waste of my time, even though I’m generally sympathetic to the argument that Mitch McConnell needs to be defeated. This email won’t cause me to donate money, though.

Instead, what seem like hundreds of these emails get sent to my trash every day. I don’t read them, and they make me generally disinclined to donate. Even the good ones that nonetheless have dramatic subjects like “If we don’t meet our fundraising goal tonight, ALL IS LOST!” get trashed. I highly doubt that tomorrow those same groups won’t be back with similarly urgent messages. So I trash them after a brief scan of subjects and senders to see whether there might be something I actually care about (a rejection or acceptance from a publisher, for instance) luking in the weeds.

I trash them without reading and without caring. The less I read, the less angry I become at groups that I actually do care about. I’m angry at the marketers who use aggressive and proven tactics that flood my inbox with junk. I try not to be angry with the politicians who have stooped to these tactics — they could be courting billionaires, after all.

But I’ve chosen to give to the candidates and the groups that I choose, and to do it on my own timeline, not on their arbitrary deadlines. I won’t respond to or even open those emails (they can tell when it’s been opened) as way to discourage these marketing practices, which is no different than screening every call with Caller ID. I won’t give to every candidate; I tend to focus on national campaigns and on my own state races, plus some for the party funds for House and Senate.

Has this reduced the number of emails I receive? I doubt it, but at least they don’t make me as angry and I feel no guilt hitting delete.

Published by Kendall Dunkelberg

I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida.

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