An overflowing inbox is the least of your worries…
Email is bad for you, says a US study that showed just five days away from that familiar ding in your inbox will result in a more varied heartrate. Now you might think that is an indication of stress, but according to this study, it’s actually a sign that you’re in a relaxed state of mind.
Frankly, this is terrible news. And it’s misinformed, oversimplified and plain untrue. In fact, I completely reject this entire study on the basis of my own relationship with email - a relationship that is best described as a love affair.
Email is my favourite form of communication, second only to the text message. And the reason is simple: They both provide an excellent alternative to actually talking to people on the phone. Oh how I loathe the telephone.
Email is everything the telephone is not. It’s fast, convenient and easy to track back. Sending emails also gives you time to consider your reply. You’re never taken aback, rudely awoken or forced into uncomfortable silence by email. You just reply, delete or ignore.
Another reason that email is not the root of all evil in our society is because that place is reserved by the ominous modern habit of multi-tasking. Followed closely by the second biggest modern evil - addiction to smartphones.
Multitasking is not good for anyone. But just like everything else in life that isn’t good for you, it feels like it is. Multitasking makes you feel like you’ve achieved a big to-do list. People who make lists love to multi-task because it means you get strike more things off that list, faster. And that makes you feel purposeful, important and super organised.
In reality, multitasking just makes you sloppy, distracted and annoying to have around. Nobody is good at doing more than one thing at once. Clearly it is possible to send an email while talking on the phone and scrolling through some photos on Facebook. But one of those tasks will always suffer the consequences of your distracted mind.
You won’t follow the phone conversation properly and end up saying “sorry” or “what?” too many times. Your emails will be riddled with typos and you’ll end up spending far too much time on Facebook.
Which brings us to smartphone addiction. I know a lot about this addiction, because I have one too. The minute I got my iPhone I began a persistent pattern of habitual checking that goes something like this: Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, work email, personal email. Repeat.
On the upside, commuting has never seemed faster and I don’t miss a work conversation. Ever. But, it takes me three times longer to finish a book these days, and I never just stare out the window and listen to music or the conversation of people around me anymore.
I’ve also lost the ability to be bored. Remember bored? And what about listless? Those long, often painful stretches of time where you could not think of one single thing you wanted to do? They’ve completely disappeared. It’s impossible to be bored when you have the equivalent of a home PC, movie theatre, work email chain and your entire social network available to you at the mere swipe of a button.
Just listing these things has made me tired and a bit stressed out. My 20 minute train trip has turned into an extension of my working day. I never just tune out. And while I could tell you what everyone I communicate with has posted on Facebook at any given minute of the day, I don’t necessarily feel any better for it.
But you can’t blame email for that.
Tweet me: @lucyjk
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