KITCHEN SINK DRAMA
Ihave a new email address. Obviously, I’m not going to tell you what it is — though not from any concern for my privacy; more because I know full well that you’re not going to use it. No, in common with 95 per cent of the people who I have notified of my new address, you’re going to carry on using the old, moribund one.
About that old, moribund one: I had thought that ireland.com and I were rubbing along very well together, right up to the point at which The Gathering robbed my address. It wasn’t the world’s greatest server, but it sort of fit me like a comfortable old sock. Also, crucially, because I had hooked up with it so long ago, I had one of those precious addresses that are almost impossible to come by these days, unless your name happens to be something like Ernest Snodgrass Hoopsworth — fiona. email@example.com. How cool was that? It was the kind of address you could pass on verbally to drunk people and they’d still remember it. I loved it because it was the email equivalent of having a phone number that you’d hear in black-and-white films, like Fitzroy 24.
So there we were, ireland.com and I, in a mutually satisfactory relationship for 12 years. It wasn’t my first such relationship, admittedly, but I’m not one of these people who flounces around with about four email addresses: for a dozen years, I had been entirely monogamous to my server. But then The Irish Times, which owned it, decided to sell the domain name to Fáilte Ireland so it could use it to entice tourists to gather. Now if you log onto ireland.com, you’ll get a lovely picture of a beach, which presumably is designed to make a user nostalgic for Irish beaches but instead just has the effect of making me nostalgic for my old email address.
Anyway, before the 70,000 of us who’d stuck with ireland.com and refused to have our heads turned by blingy servers like Gmail were unceremoniously dumped, we were given the option to set up an automatic notification which would inform anyone mailing us at the old address of our new one. I was about to set it up when it suddenly occurred to me that in spite of its rigorous filters, I had accumulated a huge
‘My switching email accounts triggered that marvellous, if utterly pointless, Irish mix of defiance
number of unwanted email correspondents over the last dozen years. Some of these — Maria at spreadshirts.com, for example — have taken to contacting me on a more or less weekly basis because once, a couple of years ago, I spent all of five seconds looking at their website. Now, I saw, I had the opportunity to shake off all these unwanted correspondents.
So instead of notifying everyone in my inbox of my fantastic journey into Gmail, I just mailed everyone who mattered. And then I waited. It wasn’t till I figured out that there was, for a short while, still a way to read, though not actually engage with, my ireland.com inbox that I realised, in my wizard scheme, I had forgotten one vital detail: we are Irish. Suddenly, it was exiting by the centre doors of the bus all over again. It was as if my saying ‘you can’t use my old email address any more’ had triggered that ancient Irish gene that is a marvellous, if utterly pointless, mixture of belligerence, defiance and tradition. Just as once we refused to get off the bus by the centre door, even though every shred of logic screamed that it was the sensible thing to do, now, the Irish rose again and, almost to a man, declared, ‘We can’t use that email any more? We’ll see about that.’
And so, almost everyone I notified of my new address continued to use the old and now completely inaccessible one. I have lost at least one work engagement and a good friend who was supposed to stay with me over Christmas considered herself uninvited. Admittedly, I also haven’t heard about spreadshirt.com’s New Year offers, but now I am wondering, at what price?
On the other hand, I quite admire all the people who simply refused to lie down and accept a change in email. Partly because I know I would be amongst them, if I had received a similar instruction, but also because it is such an unreasonable and perfectly Irish response to a reasonable request. It is the kind of thing that makes people like us, and want to gather with us. It is the kind of thing you could put on ireland.com. And for all I know, many of you may already have.