Leave My Dead Son Alone - Breathing Space Blog
The writer and his wife had a child who only lived to the age of about six. For twelve years, mail continued to arrive addressed to the young boy -- offers for tuxedos, snack cakes, and prom related items. Apparently some list containing his name and age, from many years ago, had been passed around to the point where his parents were still getting mail.
The writer commented on how painful it was each time he went to the mailbox, month after month, year after year, to still be receiving mail for his dead son. He wanted to spare his wife from this same emotional turmoil, so over the years, he would walk out to the mailbox first and remove the letters and flyers addressed to his son.
Many years later, he found out that his wife had been doing the same thing. Whenever she'd get the mail, she would also take out the letters addressed to her son so her husband would be spared. Like the "Gift of the Magi" by O'Henry, they were both clearing the mail for each other.
When the man wrote in to Newsweek, he said that the direct mail industry in our society is so impersonal, so abrasive, so amassing, and so unrelenting, that to this day, he's pleading with advertising groups to have his son's name taken off the list, and let him finally rest in peace. Today, in parallel, Google, and other mega sites are preparing for the same level of unrelenting, blatant commercialism and privacy invasion all under the banner of "serving you better."