Going unsane from unsubscribing to spam

By Dick Wolfsie

I have begun to undertake the unpleasant task of unsubscribing from all the spam email I unintentionally signed up for. Unsubscribing is apparently not a word, or so says Microsoft Word when it places squiggly red lines under the term every time I use it.

I understood when I began this purging of spammers that my chances of total success were unquestionably small. Initially, I was unfamiliar with exactly how to do it and was unaware of whether it would work or possibly cause my address to be sold to even more unreputable businesses. Maybe it was unrealistic for me to pursue this. Honestly, there was something scary about stepping into the unknown world of cyber marketing.  The whole process unnerved me. It was unbelievable how much junk mail I had in my inbox.

To unsubscribe from a repeating promotion, you have to open one of the messages and search for a teeny, tiny, almost invisible link embedded at the bottom of the email. If you click on it, you are often redirected to a website where you are asked a series of questions about this unthinkable decision you are about to make. The sender of the original email is, of course, unhappy with what you are about to do.

The page says, “We are sorry to see you go!” which makes me feel guilty. I am not an unsympathetic person. I wonder if I have unwittingly hurt their feelings.

There’s a checklist to let them know specifically why you no longer want their mailings. If you don’t check off a box, you can’t unsubscribe.  It’s unavoidable, if you want to be removed from their database. They ask you to indicate which statement(s) apply to your decision to unsubscribe. I have posted them here, and added a few sarcastic comments, which is not unlike me.  I hope I don’t appear unfriendly.

1.___I never signed up for your email.

CHECK! (Yes, that’s the reason I am unsubscribing.)

2: ___I get too many emails from you.

CHECK, again! (Yes, and they seem to be unstoppable.)

3. ___This is not a product I use.

Another CHECK! (Ads for push-up bras, dating sites and survivor gear?  How did I get on those lists?)

4: ___The content was not what I expected.

CHECK! (In fact, it was totally UNexpected. That’s why I am UNsubscribing.

5: ___The content is no longer relevant to me.

CHECK! (Yes, it is totally unrelevant. Which Microsoft just told me is also not a word.)

In several of the emails, the sender gives you the opportunity to un-unsubscribe right after you have just unsubscribed.  This is an option for people who have unsubscriber’s remorse. I have felt this at times. The pressure to un-unsubscribe can be unbearable.

I still go downstairs to my computer every morning to see if there are any new postings I should immediately unsubscribe from. Sometimes after reading dozens of unsolicited promotions, I wonder if I am going unsane. Microsoft says unsane is not a word, but I really think it should be.

p.s. I know this was a very bizarre column I sent to your newspaper. Now I wish I could unsend it.

Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@