E-mail to the Future with FutureMe.org

“Dear FutureAssHat,
By now you should be done with school, married and making an assload of money. If you’re not then you need to make some sort of drastic change. Like base jumping without a parachute or shark diving with a suit made of meat, you always did like sharks.
Once an asshat, always an asshat.
GFY,
Self”

This was an email sent to the future on Dec. 6, 2004 to be delivered on Sept. 1, 2006.

A popular website allows users to send emails to their future selves and lots of people are certainly enjoying the service. With the number of future emails sent reaching over 200,000, the site has been catching on recently, even though it has been around for four years.

Futureme.org is a website geared toward those who like predicting their futures. It also allows a semi-time capsule effect, since the site’s creators allege that memories are always more accurate right after they happen rather than years in the future.

Started by Matt Sly and Jay Patrikios in 2002, Futureme.org is basically just a couple of web pages, one with public email entries and another with an email submitter. On the latter page, the user types the email to his or her future self, picks a date for it to be sent and an email address to which to send it and sends it into oblivion.

While it may seem like space-age technology that allows hundreds of thousands of future emails to live in limbo for months or even years, according to The Grand Forks Herald, this is not necessarily the case. The technology is probably just a giant database that holds all the unsent mail and sends them on the appropriate day. While it is not rocket science or some sort of theological rift, future-emailing is kind of a cool idea.

One issue critics have had with Futureme.org is that it may be a thinly-veiled attempt to collect email addresses for corporate purposes- in other words, so they can send out junk mail. The site attempts to clarify that this is not the case in its Frequently Asked Questions section:

“No, your email address is kept strictly confidential and will ONLY be used for the purpose of you sending an email to your future self,” claimed Sly and Patrikios. “So relax. And maybe remind your future self to relax as well.”

The crazy idea for a website that allows users to send emails to their future selves is not unique but is arguably the first of its kind. The site has been featured in Wired, CNN, LA Times, Boston Globe and the Washington Post, according to its FAQ. It also claims that it has spawned many “cheap imitations,” or competitor models like one at Forbes.com (which Sly and Patrikios allege was a near-exact replica of their model and was started after Forbes had contacted them – then ignored them – to work on a project together).

Futureme.org is still a leader in the future-email industry. The free service is creative and spawned seemingly entirely from good intentions, and users have been enjoying the cutting edge technology for longer than would even have been thought possible.

Next year, as the 2002 new Futureme.org users receive their five-year updates from their past selves, perhaps a new generation of future-predicting time capsule lovers will log on and try to figure out what they could possibly say to their future selves that they will not already know.

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