EMail Accounts Manage Multiple Personalities

Remember when Jason Bourne opens his safety deposit box to find a pile of passports, each from a different port of call, each purporting a different identity? Very handy for a sleeper assassin, just as different email accounts prove very useful for everyone in managing information overload.

I like consolidation, simplicity and easy retrieval of information. My first email account through Oklahoma State University had a typically spartan interface and expired months after my last registration, so in 1998 I started my first Hotmail account. “Why pay for email hosting,” I thought, and after I watched service providers folding or being taken over, was glad I hadn’t. By the way, Netscape Navigator was the browser en vogue with technorati, and showed no sign of losing ground to Microsoft Explorer.

By 2000, I was getting so much spam that a second, reply-to-only Hotmail account filtered running dialogues into a prioritized inbox. I returned to school in 2003 with my first Mac in tow, so learned how to access my webmail using Apple’s Mail application, avoiding the university’s clunky Web 1.0 and mass-mailings.

To join a stand-up comedy message board for Portland, I needed a Yahoo! account, even though my digests are sent elsewhere. Now that login accesses my flickr account and little else. I made an AOL ID for instant messaging, but found more friends used MSN IM. I opened some SMS account for mobile phone messaging too, but texting since became universal and required no outside hosting.

I’m very anal-retentive about cleaning out my inbox, so when GMail recently introduced labels (similar to Hotmail’s folders), I got a little excited. I keep action items visible and archive everything else in GMail, then cross my fingers that a boolean search of my 785 MB backlog will locate a specific thread. It doesn’t. I’m also anal-retentive about what I keep, so it’s real bummer to get a reminder of a tirade from an angry ex-girlfriend in a search for a password or software serial number.

I’ve stuck to primarily using one GMail account for everything requiring immediate attention, or which seems legitimate enough to trust it won’t sell my address to solicitors. It’s spam filter is merciless compared to Hotmail’s, which after specifying any number of filter parameters, can still be easy fooled. Saving myself from multiple logins, passwords and avatars has streamlined things. I even do all (if any) IM within GMail chat. Sometimes I feel like a catfish bottomfeeding a murky information pond, filtering so much muck each day for tiny bits of sustenance. Generally, I just feel like it’s a fact of modern life.

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1 Comment

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One response to “EMail Accounts Manage Multiple Personalities

  1. I’ve created any number of online personalities, but none proved any more popular than the original, so I’ve given up.

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