If you have a gmail account, you may have noticed recently a bright red link in the upper right hand corner labeled “Priority Inbox Beta.” This is Googles latest attempt to de-clutter your inbox so that you don’t experience the information overload you get every time you login. The priority mail setting splits up your messages into three groups:

Important and unread:
Messages from people with whom you regularly interact and that were sent directly to you instead of an entire group.

E-mail you yourself have marked as important.

Everything else:
Things that you don’t need to bog down your mind with at the moment.

I’m not going to lie, the little old grandma in me absolutely hates change. After Google already “went into my closet and rearranged everything,” as my friend explained the placement of ‘Mail,’ ‘Contacts’ and ‘Tasks’ above the ‘Compose Mail’ button, I was not enthralled. Then after giving the Priority Mail setting a chance (albeit it was for just 5min), I was not particularly impressed by the Starred section. The top two messages in the Starred section were ones I definitely wanted to keep, but everything else I wanted to be gone. After methodically un-starring then refreshing my inbox 6 times in an effort to dismiss the unwanted starred messages I realized that Google offers no reminder or option for you to un-star something after you have already dealt with it.

This was enough to make me want to revert back to the original settings. I personally have never suffered from the ‘nauseated’ feeling people experience from sifting through their inbox. My needs as a high cognitive thinker actually loves getting mail, whether it be an exciting new invitation or simply a e-newsletter from Crabtree & Evelyn, making sense of my inbox appeals to the side of me that is meticulously detail-oriented.

Maybe it’s the nostalgic part of me that still remembers the reign of AOL, that iconic sound bite from You’ve Got Mail that sings that automated line when there’s a message just for you. This is the same adverse feeling people get towards digital devices that replace items they’ve grown attached to in their everyday lives: the new e-readers in replace of a newspaper or book or a digital camera instead of a polaroid. To imagine a world where people don’t know how it feels to turn a wrinkled old page to the next exciting chapter of a story or what it was like to have only one opportunity to capture the perfect shot at the right moment is a shame. In each technological age, we embrace the technology that surrounds us so much so that its woven into the fabric of our existence. When a new wave of inventions comes many of our prized possessions become obsolete. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. Is it worth investigating the social, ethical and emotional impact new technological advancements will have on our society before releasing them immediately just to turn a profit? Most definitely.

While Gmail’s new priority inbox will hardly impact the world at level as revolutionary as personal computers, it still represents the obliteration of a tiny piece of man-made technology to which we’ve grown attached. Maybe our Orange County Web Design firm will program our inboxes to say “You’ve Got Mail.”

How was your experience with the new Priority Inbox settings? Do you have any piece of technology you wish you could keep forever? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you.

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