I’m breaking up with Yahoo. As you have surely read, there was a huge security hack that happened quite some time ago, yet Yahoo chose to stay silent until recently. On top of that, it was then reported that Yahoo altered a tool that was used to keep emails secure, and repurposed it to scan millions of people’s emails at the U.S. Government’s request. Basically mass surveillance without cause or warrants.
I understand that hacks happen, but to keep it secret, when users could have been watching their accounts, changing passwords, and taking other measures seems negligent. I also understand that the government works to keep us safe, but scanning millions of people’s emails seems excessive, and Yahoo’s readily compliance to do so is pretty damned Big Brother-ish.
I don’t email a lot. Most of my emails are newsletters and promotions. In fact, I don’t use Yahoo’s email very much at all. But it is the totality of these things that bother me. I had three Yahoo accounts, and I’m working toward closing them out.
Here’s what makes me sad. Yahoo was my portal to discovering Paganism and Wicca. Yahoo was my home base back in the early 2000’s, when I went looking for some kind of spiritual path to fill a void in my life. In those days, Yahoo Groups was huge. There were groups for just about any subject. And one day, as fate would have it, I found my way into an open Wiccan group.
I didn’t know much at all about Wicca, but something must have captured my eye, and I spent several hours reading posts. I wish I could remember the exact name of the group. This led me to other Wiccan and Pagan groups and websites. I went back to the original group, and became an official member. Eventually I posted some questions, and the kind, generous help I received there is something I will never forget. Those people answered all my questions, then pointed me in the directions of the best books and websites to explore. I was off to the races after that.
I made some close acquaintances through those groups, and eventually one fellow Wiccan and I began our own Wiccan group. It was fun, but it was a lot of work. We maintained that group for about a year, but it proved to be too time consuming, and we closed it.
Eventually several things happened to cause me to move away from Yahoo Wicca groups. Infighting became a real problem. It happened in every Pagan group I was ever in. The “my path is better or more correct than your path” and “you’re doing it wrong” stuff. It became toxic, and longtime group members left in droves. What remained were those who hoped it would stop, and those who thrived on the drama, and were there to cause more.
Also, in 2006, Facebook opened up to the public, and anyone over the age of 13 could join. For Yahoo groups, it was akin to the doors opening at Walmart on Black Friday. Except people were leaving Yahoo Groups, not rushing in. Add to that, the growing popularity of blogs, and Yahoo Groups eventually became a ghost town.
But all these years later, I still find it hard to let go. The memory of those early years in Wicca, when it was all so very exciting, is tied to Yahoo. It’s hard to part with the nostalgia of it all. But truth be told, Yahoo hasn’t been useful in quite some time. Their main page is full of gossip articles, click bait, and nonsense. I thought when Marissa Mayer took over, things might change. Bringing on Katie Couric and David Pogue seemed like it might bring new life to Yahoo. But as we all know, that didn’t work out.
So I’ve been disconnecting newsletters and sign in’s tied to Yahoo accounts. I might keep my very first account open because of Flickr, at least until I see what happens with it when Verizon takes over.
So that’s my maudlin story about a middle aged guy, stumbling into a Yahoo Wiccan group and finding a new life. And about breaking up with the “friend” who took me there.
Yahoo, thanks for being there in 2004. I will miss what you were.
Blessed Be, and thanks for reading.