15 January, 2008

My Love/Hate Relationship

I love e-mail!
I am one of those people who responds to e-mail immediately... as long as I am at work.  E-mail allows me to keep in touch with people around the world.  I can open a blank note and send my latest piece of news or the events of my life to anyone and everyone within a minute.  Sometimes an e-mail from a friend will leave me laughing or smiling on an otherwise normal day in the office.
Life has become easier with e-mail.  I can send pictures, ask questions, handle Diva related issues... within a moment I can notify a hundred people of a time change or something so very exciting that I just can't wait to share.  Everything is quick, effortless, and painless.  With a click of a button, one task is complete, I can move to the next.   
I can also send an e-mail to the person working in the office next door - ah, less exercise and no need to engage in small talk or unnecessary conversation!  I love e-mail!!
But I hate e-mail too. 
E-mail is invasive.  I have found myself on the phone engaged in conversation with someone and... an e-mail pops into my inbox.  Of course, I have to see who it is from and what it contains. 
This is a bad habit.  I am talking on the phone - why is that I need to know, at that very moment, what is contained in the new e-mail?
I refuse to check my work e-mail at home.  If something is so important that it needs to be completed "now" then, the other party can call.  Unless I intentionally take work home, work stays at work. 
I realize that not everyone is able to work only at work.  Their jobs are demanding and require that some work is done at home - there just aren't enough hours in the day.  But there is a limit to what we should be expected to do at home?  A limit to how responsive we should be to our e-mail?
Yesterday I called a friend.  "I'll call you back in a second, " he said.  Twenty minutes later he called to tell me that two e-mail arrived right after I called.  He would take care of them and call me back. 
He responds immediately to his e-mail - and this is not an exaggeration.  If you e-mail him with a work question or request between the hours of 8 am and 11 pm - he will do his best to turn your request immediately.  His coworkers have become accustomed to this speedy return and the quality of his work.  They do not hesitate to contact him, via e-mail, with last minute requests and short deadlines.  He fulfills their requests. 
He is a manager's dream employee.  he is a slave to his e-mail.  His life has become something that he lives only when he is not connected. 
I could never live my life like this. 
E-mail is everywhere.  We can find ourselves a connection to our accounts at most any time and in most any location.  Many of us carry our e-mail account with us wherever we go.  E-mail has wormed its way into our everyday lives.  We can talk with friends, schedule dates, and conduct relationships, all over e-mail.  People request things via e-mail that they would not, without more thought, via the phone or in person.  E-mail has increased our expectations. 
I suppose that e-mail is like everything, it can so easily be abused.  It offers so much and yet, if handled improperly, it can take control.  The key is balance... setting boundaries... and learning to say "no" to e-mail!
Ah, e-mail, I love you... for all that you are and all that you can be, but... I will not let you take control!


AaroN said...

Do I need to Email you to ask that you read my blog? :P

Dave said...

My relationship is more love than hate. The only drawback is the expectation that develops of quick responses. I've taken to meeting that with a quick response that says I have nothing yet to say and will get back to them soon.

I draw the line at IM and texting. Won't do either. I'm not sure why other than the "always on" aspect.

Mike said...

If it wasn't for email I wouldn't keep in touch with a lot of people. I hate writing, plus my handwriting sucks and it's a never happening thing.

justrun said...

I hate that, too, that I have to read an email immediately. Instant gratification or something.
But when I turn off the computer, and get away for a few days... oh, it is so good.

cathouse teri said...

Oh, e-mail... you four-ish letter word. :)

I am at work all the time. When people ask what I do as the assistant to the CEO of a software company, I say, "I'm his girl Friday through Thursday!"

Michael C said...

Email is very addictive! I will respond to all emails and then reply to every reply, often being the last to reply in the email reply tango. If I am always the last to reply, should I take that as a hint that the email sender eventually grew tired of our exchanges?

See how bad email can be? ;-)

Jeni said...

Computer, internet connectivity, e-mail, blog - addictive, very addictive but yet, for me anyway, also very necessary. I can't write for but short periods of time - Christmas card signing and addressing can be a small nightmare for the stiffness in my hand and arm. Letter writing would be a calamity in that no one would have a clue what I'm trying to say with my chicken scratch penmanship, such as it is now! So for me those above elements are a godsend most of the time. But I know too - my kids tease me about this all the time - I am truly also addicted to these commodities too -as generally if you enter my house you will find me, 90 percent of the time, camped in front of the computer! But what else are you gonna do if you want to keep communication lines open as much as possible and the hand doesn't want to be cooperative with you then too? I'd be totally lost without the computer, the internet, the e-mail, WORD, and my blog -although it probably wouldn't hurt if I would intersperse those activities with some others I can still handle, ya know.

Have the T-Shirt said...

I'm like you, if an email pops up and I'm on the phone, I find myself doing two things at once.

Really very rude, huh?

I (barely) remember how simple it used to be before we had fax machines and computers invading our lives, but I well remember how much more difficult everything was without them.

I guess they have become a necessary evil.

The Exception said...

Aaron - I always read your blog... no need to e-mail... but you can always e-mail me just in case!

Dave - Oh, I do text... the text gets a little much though when people could call but text instead. There is just something wrong with that!

Mike - I am with you on keeping in touch. Often I have reconnected or maintained connections with people only because of e-mail.

JR - I love being disconnected now and again. Enjoy!

Teri - Welcome back!!

MC - I am usually that person too... in fact, didn't I e-mail you last?!

Jeni - My correspondence is all e-mail these days. I have horrific handwriting - I mean the kind that doctor's envy! Plus, it is just so fast and cheaper than the USPS or sending mail internationally!

T-Shirt - I remember the complication but I also remember having a life that wasn't so easily invaded! A necessary evil indeed!

Michael C said...

I just read your response to me. Well played, very well played.