Sunday, March 29, 2009

Email Exhaustion

When I moved back to New York a few years ago, I had brunch with a friend. When it was over, he whipped out his blackberry, sent a message, and said, "If I play it right, I never have to talk on the phone." That was his goal, no phone talking. These days, I think people have a new goal: No email. Texting, it's fine; phone, OK in a pinch, in the car, or walking down the street; email, though, they'd rather not. What with the endless special offers and sales that land in our in box (not to mention fashion updates we'd rather not get) and the hundreds of emails waiting after a vacation, the demand for correspondence time is just too high. Don't get me wrong, me, personally, I love email, but the halcyon days when all notes would be answered, some at great length, are long gone. These days, it's not just that there are myriad ways to get in touch or to feel a cold silence, it's that there are all these ways to be tired of getting in touch. Too many options and you opt to talk to no one. Plus, if you give up email, there's always Facebook; some people use it just for email. It's kind of like giving up a land line for a cell. After all, what you can't email via Facebook you can always text, or, you know, leave on a message. I bet right now, at this very second, someone is writing a manifesto, no doubt intended to be emailed and then published, calling for the banishment of email for personal communication. "A Return to the Phone," it'll be called and it'll make room for texting and missed calls as messages, but it'll decry the email option. The first line might be: "Remember when to say hello to an actual friend you had to pick up the phone or put pen to paper?" You might read it and sigh and think, "They had me at 'pen.'"

Just a theory.

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