As the new year approaches, I’m cleaning out. I’ve done some cleaning of the piles of paper that have accumulated around my desk. I’m also cleaning out my digital life.

Facebook was one thing. Email is another. I can’t just dump email, and the amount of junk email I get is huge. My spam filter just wasn’t cutting it.

I found myself starting to get really irritated by all of it. To the point of being angry every time I looked at my email. Not good. Life is too short to be irritated and angry so much of the time. I needed a better spam filter. I’ve installed SpamSieve. It cost $30, and took a bit of trouble to set up, but so far, I’m liking it. A lot.

I also get a huge amount of not exactly spam, but unwanted, email. It’s email from places I’ve ordered something, and now I get a daily email from them about other stuff to order. Or it’s email from online petition sites, where I’ve signed onto something, and now they send me “action alerts,” some of them send me “alerts” 2 or 3 times a day. These aren’t scams. Not exactly. I know how and why I got on their email blast lists. But I’m feeling blasted.

It’s tiring to be on alert so much. For the rest of the month, I’m unsubscribing to as many not-exactly-spam lists as come along. And I’m not signing onto any more “action alerts.” Ever.

If I feel so strongly about contacting my representatives about something, I’m going to write a real letter. Or I’ll call them. Or I’ll arrange to talk to them over lunch.

I suspect that signing online petitions only generates spam for whoever you’re trying to reach, and sending spam is no way to positively influence anyone’s opinion.

There must be a better way of generating support for good causes than badgering people in their email multiple times per day and pissing off the people you are trying to persuade. You can only take that sort of thing for so long. Then it’s over. Not just for your cause, but for everyone else’s.

If you can figure out the solution to that problem (Hint: it’s not just reducing the number of times you badger them to just once a day, or even once a week.) you’ll be doing everyone a big favor. I have a feeling it has something to do with spending less time spamming and taking the time to make more real contact.