While it’s not the rousing fun of a kids’ game of hide-and-seek or even a word search, I enjoy the game of looking for the unsubscribe button at the bottom of automated emails.
I decided that I don’t need to know about all of the sales from my local craft store, the inside of which I haven’t seen in over a year.
(I got on the mailing list initially to save 20% on a purchase.)
I click “unsubscribe,” and a web page opens.
The words at the top empathize: “We understand your inbox can fill up quickly. Let us know what you prefer.”
Underneath are four options with a button next to each:
⚪ Once a week sounds about right
🔵 Let’s slow it down—only once a month, please
⚪ I take it back! Keep all the emails coming
⚪ It’s just not working out. Unsubscribe me.
The second option is preselected.
I think, “Once a month might be good. This way, I’m not totally out of the loop.”
On my way to press “confirm,” I reevaluate, “No, no, no. I want off.”
I don’t really need to know when Lion Brand Basic Stitch Anti-Pill Yarn is on sale in all colors.
So I switch to the last option, although it makes me feel like I’m an asshole, dumping a lover.
Human nature is to go along with the pre-selected option.
I always feel like I’m disappointing Apple when I change from the pre-selected option of sending my data to help them analyze system crashes.
It’s just inertia.
We tend to leave the pre-selected options selected.
For this reason, many states are changing the way they register organ donors from opt in to opt out. And they see a large increase in potential donors.
Some suggest that the United States should opt citizens into voting, as other democracies do.
We human beings are influenced by our surroundings.
In the 1950s, Solomon Asch performed a now famous experiment in conformity. He stooged individuals to give wrong answers to simple questions and recorded how often participants went along with the group. About 75% of participants conformed at least once and gave answers they knew were wrong.
Marathon runners have a propensity to injury because they unconsciously change their natural stride and pace (what they practiced) to match that of the group.
We are creatures of habit, accustomed to our many routines.
A majority of those who have had coronary events do not change their eating or exercise habits.
We conform to the outside world and our ‘default’ settings.
“How are you?”
We tend to answer reflexively, unless we’ve been run over by a train, robbed, or something else of grand magnitude transpired.
It’s hard for us to opt out of our default settings.
If we are accustomed to putting ourselves down and not loving ourselves, it is hard for us to change from these default settings.
If we are accustomed to being critical of others, it will be hard for us to focus on the good they do.
And, we are accustomed to thinking of others as “fixed” as well.
George Bernard Shaw said, “The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailor: he took my measure anew every time he saw me, whilst all the rest went on with their old measurements and expected them to fit me.”
This is a call to do it differently.
Stop doing as you are accustomed to.
Get off your default setting and opt-in.
Do something, even as small as a longer breath of air, differently.
Drink more water today than you did yesterday.
Wake up to the marvelous new world, created fresh before your eyes every moment.
And contemplate whether you really want to continue to receive this newsletter 40/52 weeks a year.
There’s an unsubscribe button somewhere down there.
Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer resides in Portland, Oregon. He is the founder and head of Religion-Outside-The-Box rotb.org, an internet-based, global group of 3.3K+ digital-age seekers. ROTB produces excellent spiritual content.