Email Ghosts

I correspond with a lot of people and my email program remembers them all. Every time I type in the first few letters of an address, Thunderbird suggests a list of people it thinks I might want to write to. The software of course knows nothing about what goes on in the world around it, and so blithely continues to suggest the addresses even of people who have died.

I have heard of ghost email that has been sitting in some screwed-up mail server for months and only reached its adressee after the death of the person who wrote it. But this is something else. My computer wants me to write letters to dead people.


3 thoughts on “Email Ghosts

  1. Ghostbuster: In Thunderbird, (1) open your Address Book, (2) find dead people in your Personal Address Book (and probably also in “collected addresses” or other address book folders you may have); (3) delete dead people.

    Poof! No more ghosts!


  2. Uqbar’s suggestion is practical, but not nearly as romantic as imagining what one would actually write to dead people.

    But now that I think about it, many of my own blog posts are probably (more or less) posthumous “letters” to my father, who died nearly five years ago. I think he would have become an enthusiastic blogger himself had he lived another year or two–because he was a natural historian and loved e-mail and the ease with which it connects us with one another. I’m not sure I’d really want to get rid of the ghost addresses–it’s kind of sweet to think about remembering people accidentally.


  3. I like owlfarmer’s notion. I didn’t much like it, though, when the local pharmacist kept pestering me to identify my husband by his date of birth, not just once but three times, one day, when I went to get his medication. You see, my husband and his father had the same first and last names, and the same middle initial. We lost his father this last summer. It was like being stabbed in the heart each time the staff asked that question. I explained calmly enough the first two times that they didn’t need to keep asking me that and why. But the 3rd time, I suddenly burst into tears and shouted at them to stop asking me that d—n question as the poor old man was dead, didn’t they understand, he was dead, there was only one man with that name and they’d better never ask me that question again. Then I had to go and sit in the frozen foods section of the market to calm down, before going back, apologizing, and fetching the silly medicine.

    They haven’t asked the question again though.


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