/ givingupgoogle

Giving up Google: 4/x; Going back to Gmail

A while ago, as part of my Giving up Google experiment, I gave up Gmail (actually a G Suite Gmail, but, same same) and moved to ProtonMail. You can read about it here:

https://zulusierra.co/2018/07/30/giving-up-google-email/

This lasted about 8 months, and during that time I had plenty of opportunity to reflect on the good and bad of being out of Google's email system. The core problem was that Google to email very, very well. ProtonMail do an OK job of email, but their service is hampered by a slow web interface and proprietary apps. When every action takes a few seconds longer than it should, email stops being a useful tool and starts to become a chore.

Remembering why I gave up Gmail

As we know, Google gobbles up our data, and does something with it. It enables tracking within emails, as this anecdote shows:

I have Gmail set not load pictures (and logically, tracking pixels) automatically, and I have this setting mirrored on the Mail app of my iPhone. While working a problem with my employer, I got an email, send by Outreach, delivered to my iPhone. All I could see on the screen was the text of the email, no graphics or custom fonts. I thought this meant that Outreach's ability to track my email opening event was neutered, but it wasn't. Somehow, the 'read' status of the email was communicated back to Outreach, despite my best intentions.

This is annoying, obviously, but it's also the state of things, and I have come to realise that shouting at the wind does nothing but leave me with a sore throat, and that email is all about orderly processing of data. Ultimately, I don't care if the sender knows I've opened an email. If they keep annoying me, I can set up one of Google's very efficient rules to delete them. What I do care about is efficient access to information, and Gmail provides that, at a cost I have come to accept.

Other data

Spam

One unanticipated benefit of leaving Google was an inexplicable drop in spam, from n+1 per day, to 1 or 2. After coming back, this trend has been maintained, something that I am completely at a loss to explain.

PGP

I was interested in having PGP available, but in 8 months of emailing, I had 0 encrypted email conversations.

Key lessons learned

  1. Failure is always an option.
  2. Going back isn't always bad.