Without Gmail, I’m nothing

To those users who briefly lost their email, Jesse Brown knows how you feel


Forty thousand Gmail users can breathe easy today: their email accounts, temporarily wiped clean, have been restored. Google worked quickly and openly to correct the meltdown, and assures us that email data was never really in danger. They keep tape backups—lots of them.

I wasn’t among the .02% of Gmail users who briefly lost their mail, but I know how they feel. One drunken evening a few months back, I suddenly became certain that I needed to beef up my personal security profile RIGHT NOW. I stumbled out of bed, changed my banking, Gmail, and Facebook passwords, and then quickly regained unconsciousness.

I awoke to find myself locked out of my mail, friends, and money. I had no memory whatsoever of my new passwords.  I tried every possible combination of my usual letters and numbers, but the algorithms grew suspicious of me for my multiple attempts and put me on timeout. I clicked “Lost your Password?” buttons in vain, knowing full well that recovery emails would be sent to an address I could no longer access.

Waiting for my exile in timeout to pass, I searched my subconscious for answers. Names of old pets, childhood streets and junior high locker combinations churned through my hungover brain, leading to moments of nostalgia, melancholy, then existential angst. Who was this Jesse Brown character? What numbers and words have meaning to him? Without them he had nothing—his friends and employers could not reach him, he was impoverished, and he could not acknowledge the many hilarious Internet memes gaining popularity at that very moment. I was stuck in a bad Paul Auster novel, or a very boring Bourne sequel.

I went for a walk to clear my head and immediately realized I had forgotten a “7” at the end of my Gmail password. With email access I could restore the other accounts, and was soon feeling like myself again. I spent the afternoon reading emails from old roommates, reviewing Visa purchases from November ’08, and liking every damn thing on Facebook.

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Without Gmail, I’m nothing

  1. What's so great about gmail that makes it so superior to any other email account? I don't really get it.

    • simplicity, space, speed, spamlessness… lots of esses really.

    • Less spam than any account I've ever had (including work accounts on an Exchange server!), simple and streamlined (doesn't make you feel like you're on MySpace), if you have to have a webmail account with ads theirs are the least intrusive, IMAP access, it is offered for domain customers if you don't want a webmail-looking address, integration with Android phones, good apps for Blackberry and iPhone devices…

    • It's not that GMail is superior (I haven't used Hotmail or Yahoo mail in years, so I can't really say).

      It's just that I've been using it to dump any and all info in the cloud before we said annoying things like "the cloud".

      I upload files to Gmail just so I'll always have access to them. I do all my writing in Gmail drafts. I know Dropbox and Google Docs are better apps for much of what I do, but I'm a creature of habit.

      It's slowly become such an important tool for me that I lose site of the fact that I pay them nothing and have no idea what my rights/recourse would be if one day my account just vanished!

    • Stuff works. Discussion threads take up one line instead of 23. Better search functions than the others, though they are improving. A calendar app I finally felt like trying, and I'm never going back to anything else.

      It's my online backup for files, not really its primary purpose but the search functions make file retrieval a snap.

  2. Post full passwords or it didn't happen


  3. I'm guessing this was due to the Gawker security breach? I too had to change every bloody password I have, everywhere (thanks Nick Denton). The worst part is that the security breach was only possible because of their bloody site re-design, which they've now admitted was a massive failure. Sooooo much work for so many people to achieve absolutely nothing!

  4. I have never been drunk and though about my online security. Weird man. Lol!

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