Learn to say "I don't give out my e-mail address"
You know the drill - you go to pay for something at a retail store and they ask for your phone number or zip code or e-mail address. They ask the question like it is the most natural thing in the world. They imply that your transaction won't happen unless you provide this information. They expect that you won't question their motives and won't engage in anything confrontational related to their question.
It is getting worse; I don't know if there was a national memo to all the retailers of America but when I was shopping in the Plaza in Kansas City a store clerk asked for an entire profile before you got to give them money for the sale - full name, address, e-mail and phone number. I heard my friend reply with all of this information and it was everything I could do to not yell "stop giving away your privacy". I was up next. I had a $10 necklace to buy and I was armed and ready. She started in with the first question and I responded with "do you need this information?". I got to buy my product in about a minute and walk away knowing I won't be getting solicited later.
It seems easy to give out your e-mail address because (1) you want to be nice and (2) you tell yourself that you will delete all of their e-mail anyway.
But stop and realize that your personal information is private to you and you are willingly giving it away. You don't like someone soliciting your home or phone number - direct and e-mail marketing is just a more subtle way of that.
Another thing I have noticed is apps on smartphones asking you to allow this, accept this and provide access to all your contacts. There is usually a way to create an account without doing this - they just make you work harder for it.
I don't know what all of this consent can lead to, but it probably isn't to your benefit to say yes to everything.
Part of the Fourth Amendment test for a legal search by the government is an expectation of privacy that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable. Or more simply "a legitimate expectation of privacy". If we continue to provide our information upon request, it could prove problematic for our future.
I know this blog is preachy. Hopefully if you start being aware of the ways businesses seek your personal information, the easier it is for you to say no.
When they ask for your information, just say:
"I don't give out my e-mail address"
"I don't give out my phone number"
"Do you need my zip code to process this transaction?"
TIME covered this topic in a piece on digital privacy, published July 11, 2013, and it supports what I write here. It even talks about a class action lawsuit against Urban Outfitters because they suggested to their customers that a zip code was required to complete their transaction.
Your e-mail is a coveted piece of information, but not only that - you are also giving away your time for free.
I won't listen to the people who justify providing their e-mail by saying "I can just opt-out". This equals lost time. "I will just delete it.". This equals lost time.
Check out these shocking equations.
Here, have my e-mail address. Then you get their e-mail = less time to work = less satisfied clients = less money = less job satisfaction = more bad things.
Here is my e-mail = less time for friends and family
Here is my e-mail = less time for yourself
I'm not a fan of any of that.