Is Email Evil?
Breast cancer. Bosses. Husbands. Wives. Algebra. If I were to make a list of what ruins people’s lives (or at least of what people say ruins their lives), email probably wouldn’t top the list. Or even come a couple thousand spammy articles near the top of the list. But according to Lynn Parramore of AlterNet, email isn’t all efficiency and smiles; its benefits come at a cost, and those costs can, in fact, “ruin your life.”
How, you ask? Parramore notes five particularly ruinous effects email, or rather an addiction to email, can produce. Distracting us from our leisure time and interfering with our productivity, encouraging interpersonal isolation and antipathy—these are just some of the unhappy consequences she associates with an unholy email obsession. And then there’s always the chance, while engaging in one of those manic emailing bacchanals, you might just bump into the “Email Devil”: that “invisible creature” who tricks you, for instance, into sending your dirty joke to your CEO and your sweat-lined economic analysis to your best friend. Oops.
Parramore suggests that email itself, as a social tool, isn’t really the problem; the problem is the inability of some people to release themselves from its ubiquitous, hypnotic gaze—a hypnotism produced largely by employers and colleagues, whose often burdensome expectations turn us “into stress freaks” incapable of looking away. The statistics she cites as her primary evidence, however, aren’t entirely germane; nearly two years old, the article cited never once mentions the word email. She also doesn’t seem to consider the possibility that some people might actually genuinely enjoy checking their emails on a regular basis. You know, all those people with friends who email.
So is email-addiction really a problem, or is it just the hang-up of one particularly nagging writer? Let me know what you think in the comments. In the meantime, I’m going to refresh my inbox.
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