Saturday, August 20, 2016

Still Life with Robin: 3 to 5 Times a Day

By Peggy Robin

It’s happening three to five times a day. I’m not talking about needing to take a pill….or a break to stretch….or get a bite to eat. No, I’m talking about how often I get emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign. It may be signed by campaign manager Robby Mook, or Vice President Joe Biden, or running mate Tim Kaine, or even Hillary herself, but the main message is always the same. “Peggy [they like to call me by my first name, though we’ve never met]….we need your help.” They mean in the form of cash. “Can you give today?”

I get this pitch over and over, day in and day out – never a missed day – and it’s been this way for months. Now, this is a column about all kinds of things EXCEPT national politics, so I’m not going to go into how I got on this email list, except to confirm that I am indeed a Hillary supporter. No surprise there, as I conform to every demographic of the stereotypical Hillary voter. But the reason I’m bringing this up has nothing to do with the candidate herself; the thing that interests me – and bugs me—is the overkill of email messaging. How could any campaign manager think anyone would want to be emailed thirty-plus times a week? I’ve been keeping track of this for little more than a week, but if it keeps up at at this rate, that’ll be about a 124 emails a month!  

So why don’t I just unsubscribe? That should be an easy fix, shouldn’t it? At the bottom of every email there is a paragraph explaining how I can opt out of the barrage. It’s in teensy-weensy type but it’s there. If I click on the link provided, I can take my email address off the list. Now, I was reluctant to click on it because I don’t actually want to cut off all contact from the campaign. I would like to stop the flood but let a trickle come through. Let’s call it “enough to wet my whistle.” You see, every so often they send me something I actually want to receive: not a plea for cash but an offer to get something desirable for just a nominal donation. Example: “See Hamilton on Broadway with Hillary!” That was sheer brilliance. For a $3 donation I could enter a lottery for a chance to see the sold-out-forever show --normal prices are around $350 a ticket!-- and see it with Hillary, no less. Of course, entering more often improves the odds from a one-in-a-bazillion shot to a ten-in-a-bazillion shot, but what the hell. I don’t want to lose out entirely on the chance to act on these kinds of deals. (And yes, if you’re wondering, I do enter the Powerball lottery whenever the jackpot goes up to eight figures - that's my threshold. I understand my chances winning are worse than being hit by lightning while simultaneously being run over by a train but more fun to imagine.)

Well, just yesterday, soon after filing away the third of the day’s missives from the campaign, I was on the phone complaining about the quantity to a friend, who said “Why don’t you just hit the ‘less email’ link? You don’t need to unsubscribe entirely.” This was a subtlety I had not known existed. I don’t think it was in the first batch of emails I received. But when I looked at one of the more recent ones, I found this line (still in eye-strainingly small type): “Getting emails from Hillary for America is one of the best ways to stay in touch with this campaign, but if you really want to scale back, click here to receive less email and click here to unsubscribe.” So I hit the “less email” link.  They asked me to confirm my email so that they could reduce the frequency of the messages to that address – and then they asked me for my cell phone number so they could text me instead! NOOOOO!! You know I didn’t fall for that trap.

And now it’s the end of the day, Saturday, the first full day after clicking the “less email” link. And I am pleased to report that I got just a single email today. If I get just one a day from now on, it’s a mere 79 emails till election day – whew!

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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