The New GMail, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Inbox Changes

Kim LaCapria - Author

Aug. 23 2017, Updated 4:55 a.m. ET

Have you been switched over to the drastic new GMail, in which your inbox messages arrive scarily resorted and grouped in places you may never see them?

The new GMail update is one of a few biggies in the past few months, including the one where “compose” brings you to a pop-in tab and not a separate page as we’ve been used to our whole emailing lives. I still don’t know where the “change subject” button is most of the time. (Actually, I learned yesterday — it’s a header dropdown.)

Like Facebook changes, new GMail features are met with a five stages of grief-like wide-scale reaction of anger, fear, confusion, angry forum comments, and finally, grudging acceptance — but for me personally, after the first 36 hours of terror subsided, I actually learned to love my new GMail features.

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It’s pretty predictable that we all fear technology changes like the new GMail features or a Facebook news feed update, because we’ve entrusted our lives to these companies — if for some both banned me tomorrow, I’d be unable to go to work (I work virtually), contact 98 percent of the humans I know on Earth, or perform many essential life tasks like purchasing or organizing things. All have been delegated to these services for many of us in 2013.

What GMail’s new “Priority” Inbox does is (no, really) pretty genius. It takes your real conversations and places them in the first tab, sorting them out from social media and forums (separate entities for geeks), and the “bacon” mail we receive — also known as compelling but not urgent pitches from companies with whom we’ve consented to receive mails.

The Greek Chorus of GMail users hasn’t cottoned to this awesomeness yet in large numbers, and The Daily Beast quotes one as observing:

“It’s like waking up in the morning, blundering into your kitchen and finding that a burglar had come in during the middle of the night and taken nothing, but rearranged your appliances.”

You know who else isn’t happy? Marketers:

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The new GMail priority inbox was also met, even by tech experts, with suggestions to “turn it off” before you even get to see if you like how it works:

Let us be the first to say new GMail features are scary precisely because how integral GMail is for day-to-day life — but like all forced changes to huge services, there is a group of people who study this stuff as a job inventing and implementing these changes.

Personally, I soon realized that while I didn’t want to or couldn’t unsubscribe from lots of “bacon,” the declogging of my inbox solved a problem I never really realized I had. And even Facebook and Twitter alerts are sometimes wanted, but you don’t need them jumping on top of a letter from your boyfriend or boss a few mails down.

So sure, disable the new GMail — but we think you should give it a week and see if we all need to stop whining every time Facebook and Google fix stuff up for us.


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