Friday, October 22, 2004

I'm a bad e-mailer

I was updating some addresses on my PalmPilot the other day when I realized how bloated my own entry had become. I have more e-mail addresses than any one person ought to have.

Let's run them down, shall we: a work one, a home one for family messaging, a Hotmail one that I attach to everything I publish, an address at the college where I teach, a Google Mail one that I use for everyday messaging, another Gmail one that I use specifically for blogging, yet another Gmail one that I set up for one particular, high-volume contract that I'm working on, and a few other free web-based accounts that I had set up over the years, then abandoned as they filled up with the inevitable tidal waves of spam.

That's seven addresses that I use more or less regularly, plus a bunch of long-forgotten mail folders sitting out in the internetworked ether. And that's just the ones I remember.

It's completely ridiculous, yet as long as an exposed e-mail address – meaning one that you freely give out to people, and use to sign up for stuff online – can be harvested by the scum who spread spam around the world, a surreptitious approach to e-mail account management will continue to be the order of the day.

Which leads me to the spark of an idea that originally inspired this message: the fact that I'm a bad e-mailer.

I think you've experienced it on your end as well: an acquaintance e-mails you. You're pretty busy when you first see the message in your inbox, so you make a mental note to answer said person when you have a free moment. Of course, you never end up actually having that free moment. So days, weeks, and months pass before you come across the now-stale message still sitting patiently in your inbox.

Do you answer the message and apologize profusely in the process? Do you reply and pretend as if no time at all has passed? Do you ignore the message and pretend you never got it? Is there a right thing to do when you're an E-mail Answer Slacker?

I'm not sure there is. But I know my various inboxes are littered with stale-dated messages from people I really like, but just haven't had the time to get back to. If you're one of those folks and you're reading this, don't hate me and the six generations of Levys who follow. Instead, hate the insidious rules of our planet that limit the day to 24 hours, and the year to 365 days. Yes, I know leap years don't count. But even then, the extra day does little to ease my e-mail backlog.

If the Earth flew just a little more slowly in its orbital track, maybe we'd be able to slow down a little. The late Christopher Reeve's Superman, with his much-maligned fly-around-the-world-so-fast-that-the-planet's-spin-is-reversed-and- time-goes-backward trick may not have been so off the mark after all.

At some point, I'm sure a Treo 650 smart phone would help my case. But that would only render me able to tap away while engaged in otherwise non-e-mail-conducive activities. Besides, I've already written about nasty CrackBerry addicts, so I'd be violating my integrity as a ranting-lunatic journalist if I simply joined the cult. It is, at the end of it all, a technology whose solution may be worse than the initial affliction.

With that in mind, my predicament will likely remain relatively unchanged for the foreseeable future. I'll continue to juggle too may inboxes and inadvertently ignore too many messages from people who matter.

It doesn't mean I don't care. I'm simply too busy keeping all these balls in the air to take the time to actually appreciate the subtle nuances of any one of them.

1 comment:

Joan said...

Hey Carmi! My sister stumbled upon your blog and directed me to it and it's been really cool reading you!

I had a stale email in my inbox that I recently just deleted in shame that was from April 2004. So I can definitely identify with the "bad emailer" that you spoke of.

Take care and have a great rest of the weekend!