Sunday, December 16, 2007

Email Blues

Both BFP and Nezua have admitted to struggling with email. Brownfemipower:

6. I have a profound inability to manage my email. I currently have over 700 unopened emails in my inbox. People often wonder why I have so many email accounts–that is why. I get up to about 500 unopened emails–and I get beyond overwhelmed, and say fuck it. The account is lost, there’s nothing I can do about it, time to get a new one. A friend promised to help me figure out the email thing during the upcoming break–we’ll see how that goes. Hopefully, this time, i won’t need to switch email accounts.


i am really hating email lately. it should cost money to send an email. maybe that would cut this nonsense down. we send far to many and far too much. made communicating easier? hell no. it makes it a nightmare. in a day i can get three important emails and they can be drowned by a billion. i flag juicy ones, i highlight them, i perm their hair and paint their toes red and still they get buried. and it just depresses me to think of leaping in after them and digging through all the rinds n shit. but i’m feeling bad for all these forgotten or delayed connections.

I might as well pile on. I realized last year that the last time I could truly say I loved email was about ten years ago, when I knew all of six other people who had it. I could handle six email correspondents, especially when a couple of them were flaky about writing back. I used to go days and days and even weeks at a time with no new email. Of course, because I was stupid, I checked my email obsessively and complained about the lack of it.

"No one loves me! No one wrote me back!"

When I first met my boyfriend in 1999, I remember him voicing another complaint I had back then: Some people just aren't letter-writers, so they aren't good email correspondents, either. He told me he'd lost touch with all his friends from high school and college because they'd send him this type of email. Hands up who remembers receiving this type of email:

Hey bro, what's up? got a job interview next Mon., pretty psyched! well not much else is new. write me back!!!

That's not an email, that's . . . okay, I don't know what that is. My attitude towards those kinds of emails was always, "write you back? You didn't give me much to write you back ABOUT."

I had no idea what was coming. NO idea.

In fact, from about 2000-2005 I begged my recalcitrant parents to just send me emails. Please! SEND EMAILS. No more phone calls. Oh, I hated the phone. I always felt trapped on it. Didn't I say as much once upon a time? Yes! Yes, I did:

49.···I can't stress this enough: I hate the telephone. The way you can be my best friend is never to call me on the telephone. I lost a programming job because they wanted me to code up a "soft phone," and I just hated it too much to want to work on it, so I didn't. The ringer on my phone was once turned off for a week because one Saturday, while trying to take a nap, people kept calling me and waking me up, and even though I knew eventually I would have to turn it back on before someone got hostile about not being able to reach me, every time I reached for the ringer switch I thought, "Nah, let 'em wait awhile yet." I tell people that if I had invented the phone, it would only dial out, and it would only dial one number: 911. They think I'm kidding, but I'm not.

(Rereading that now, it occurs to me that I left out 95% of the story on that programming job, like the part where my boss got me drunk in an attempt to convince me to stay with the company instead of accepting a better-compensated position elsewhere [it came with such perks, too], or the part where in my subsequent state of drunkenness I explained TO MY BOSS that I had to leave the company because my wanting to sleep with him was fucking up my ability to do good work there, or the part where he said he wanted to sleep with me, too, or the part where within two months of my stupidly turning down the offer from the other company BUT ALSO refusing to deliver on the whole sleeping-with-the-boss thing, I was let go.

BUT, ANYWAY, it is also true that I did not enjoy working on the softphone. Remember, kids: If you find yourself wanting to sleep with your boss, change jobs immediately, and keep your fucking mouth shut until you're safely out the door. Accept no alcohol from the object of your affections in the meantime. Also, if he's married, just don't do it. That toad is on his third wife now, with hefty alimony and child support payments, which of course he bitches about constantly, going out to wives 1 and 2. I'm GLAD I didn't sleep with him. I'm only sorry I ever thought I wanted to.)

Oh, but we were talking about the phone versus email. Pardon me! I am not bitter. Back to Nezua:

i used to hate the fone. but i’m different now. now that i have a headset. ever since i got a headset in 2001, i dont mind the fone at all. i can walk around and do all kinds of junk and still be on the fone. fone is one of those things, like going to the bathroom that bores the living hell out of me. things that need to be combined with other actions because they just require too little brainpower and you dont feel like zombieing out that many times in a week.

My situation is obviously different from Nezua's. I'm NOT hugely popular. My situation is different from Brownfemipower's, too: I'm not signed up on hundreds of activist lists.

It isn't really that I get so very many emails; it's that I type for a living. Forty hours a week. Okay, 37.5. This week only thirty, because doctors are bailing for their Caribbean holidays and work is slow. But I don't just type, I transcribe. I turn the spoken into the written. And here's the first thing you learn doing that: No one can type as fast as humans can speak. On a good day I can knock out a 5-minute dictation in 8 minutes, but there are a lot of health care providers who dictate rapidly enough, or badly enough, that it can take 10 or 12. It's inefficient, and I'm not growing in patience as I get older--quite the opposite, really.

Guess whether I want to sit down and type more once I've finished a shift of that?

Nez, how much for a headset these days? I might have to look into that, even if I would feel like a huge dork wearing one (and I would). But it is time for me to renew my relationship with the telephone. I'm going to buy it flowers and send it a nice note:

Dear telephone,

Baby, I'm sorry. I treated you bad and you went away and that fling I had with the email, it didn't work out. I'm not asking you to feel sorry for me. I know I don't deserve your pity. I just want to know whether you could find it in your heart to give me a second chance.

I miss you,



gennimcmahon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

How do you pronounce Ilyka?

ilyka said...

How do you pronounce Ilyka?

"Bitch," apparently. Thank you! Don't forget to tip your server!

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez said...

holy jeez i'm so ignorant i cant believe youre back online yay! jeje.

headset: DO IT. sooo great. screw the dork factor. we are a group of people who thinks our social life is in a glass electric box. we lost the whole dork battle a long time ago. headsets dont cost much. and totally worth it. i'm tellin ya! they will change your fone-life!

oh, and i mean in the house. i dont care about wearing them outside, either. but i quit my cell phone thing. dont have one no more. i feel realllly stupid and self loathing paying through the nose to be tracked and spied on. and its a principal thing because my old principal had one and he looked really stupid always hunting for his cellie.

Anonymous said...

I do not think that is a very good way for people to pronounce it. :(

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez said...

oh and actually, i think if i recall right, the original sell on email was that it would exactly for those short types of messages you quoted. i think part of why it has become so lumbersome (not to mention spam, which is a huge reason, but not the only by any means) is that we all write really involved emails now and often expect them back. which is sort of like writing tons of letters, which i never did, and dont see myself doing. i am much more into the "send a sound file of me talking stuff out" school. i dont know if that is a school. but i should start it if not.

ilyka said...

we all write really involved emails now and often expect them back. which is sort of like writing tons of letters, which i never did, and dont see myself doing.

Yes! That! I like writing in general, but I always hated writing letters. For one thing when I was a kid my family was on the west coast and most of my relatives on the east, so a letter might take a week to make it back there. So it was like, you'd write and write--and then before the letter could even reach anyone, you'd talk on the phone and wind up saying everything you'd already said in the letter, thus obsoleting the letter. What then was the point of the letter?

I thought email would be a great intermediate solution but email COMPOUNDS. Say I write 3 paragraphs initially. Now say my aunt blockquotes all three paragraphs and inserts her own responses in-between them, and some of her responses run to 2, 3 paragraphs. Now I reply, and--boom, it's exponential. I've had emails that have ballooned up to just waaaaay too many paragraphs in only a handful of exchanges.

At least the nature of letters precludes blockquoting. Maybe that will be a New Year's resolution for me: NO MORE BLOCKQUOTING.