I am the kind of person that likes to keep little boxes with memories. At my parents’ house, I have a box with letters that my grandmother sent to me when I was studying or working abroad. When she passed away, she had a box with the letters I wrote to her, so now I have a slightly bigger box that contains both our correspondence. I have a similar box with letters from friends in high school. And a box with pictures from the time before digital photography.
My Hotmail account was a box like that. I started using it in the late nineties just before I went to college and continued to use it for almost 10 years, until I switched to gmail. I never deleted anything, except for in the early days when Hotmail only allowed you so much storage and I had to make the difficult decision of which of those precious emails to delete.
I hadn’t logged into my Hotmail account for over a year, and then when I did yesterday, it had switched to being outlook, and to my horror my inbox said: ”You’re all caught up” and it was empty, except for the image of a winner cup. What have you done, Microsoft? Did you just throw away my box of memories?! A quick google search shows me I’m not the only one, but that Microsoft has been an overachieving Marie Kondo for everybody and apparently decided that none of those emails were sparking joy and therefore could all just be deleted.
So now I’ve been preoccupied since yesterday with trying to remember what was in those ten years of emails: the entire electronic correspondence with the person I had a relationship with for more than half of that decade, the email from his mom around the time we broke up about how I needed to make decisions for myself – an email that really upset me when I received it, but that when I re-read it years later finally understood the warmth behind it. Also, emails from my friend when she was abroad for a year when we were 18. Sent emails from myself when I was abroad for work or studying. Very precious emails from the first person I ever dated when I was 14: email did not exist back then for me, but we later found each other back – in an email that kind of changed my life afterwards (yes – dramatic, but that is the case when you’re adolescent right?). Also: pictures from before the digital era that people had scanned and emailed. And probably many other things that I couldn’t remember, but that were in that box as well.
Why did you just throw away my box of memories, Microsoft?