You’ve Got Mail…but You Want More

Do you ever have days when you keep checking your e-mail, but you’re just wasting your time, because nothing’s appearing in your inbox?

Today was one of those days. And somehow, in an odd way, the day ended up feeling a bit empty.

Am I really that attached to getting e-mail? Dan Ariely thinks so. In his book Predictably Irrational, he talks about e-mail addiction. Based on what he says, I think a lot of us have this addiction–we just don’t realize it.

Ariely talks about the entertainment factor of e-mail. I really think he has a point there. E-mail is personalized entertainment. Filling our inboxes, filling our lives. Have you ever continued an e-mail conversation not because you cared, but simply because you wanted more e-mail? More entertainment? I certainly have.

At the same time, I love e-mail as a form of communication. I communicate better when I have the chance to think about something and compose sentences to express myself instead of just blurting it out loud. But I see that depending on e-mail as a form of entertainment is pretty dangerous.

Ariely compares e-mail to gambling. Every time you refresh your inbox or click send/receive, you’re pulling down on a veritable slot machine. What’s it going to be this time: A message from that really hot girl you’re talking to? From someone wanting to buy ad space on the blog? From a hilarious friend?

It’s a gamble every time–and by “every time,” I mean hundreds of times a day. Think about the sheer number of times you check your e-mail, whether it’s refreshing your inbox on your iPhone to glancing at the Gmail tab on your computer to clicking send/receive in Outlook (or whatever the Mac equivalent is…I’m sure it’s very chic and involves raising your eyebrow smugly instead of clicking the mouse). I may only go to the casino once every 5 years, but I’m gambling hundreds of times a day with e-mail.

What’s the solution? Today makes me think that there must be a better way. I can’t spend my day bored and uninspired simply because I’m not getting e-mail (and yes, I was still working, but even work was boring without the receipt of much e-mail). I can think of tons of solutions, but I don’t like any of them, because I want my e-mail! Help me out here, people.

Also, if you’re looking for a more interesting distraction than e-mail, check out the other Blank Slate Press author’s new blog. You can tell this guy is going to be good.

9 thoughts on “You’ve Got Mail…but You Want More”

  1. I look forward to seeing the picture you choose for each entry. I was initially disappointed when I didn’t see one for this entry, then I kept reading…
    My solution to habitually checking e-mail, facebook, &c. is a smart phone. It gives me a notification when I receive something, and my phone is with me at all times. If I haven’t received a notification on my phone, I know there is nothing in my inbox. It has it’s problems too, like smart phone dependency…

    • I almost went with a boring e-mail icon…but then I was like, why not find a hot woman using a laptop? That’s much more interesting.

      I’m intrigued by the smart phone solution. I have push notifications turned off on my iPhone because I’m almost always at a computer anyway. But it’s an intriguing idea. That way you don’t have to keep checking.

      • I just got an iPhone, and it’s becoming a little addictive knowing that I can check my email or hop on the internet with one touch! 🙂 Are you the same way with text messaging, as you are with email? Because it’s so much fun to send and receive text messages — almost like a mini-email.

        • I definitely prefer e-mail…I’m just much faster on a keyboard than on my iPhone, and I like that you can reply to e-mails at your own pace. I feel like texts require a more immediate response.

  2. If you use gmail keyboard short cuts, you can press the U key to force it to look for new mail. Saves having to find the refresh link with the mouse.

    • Another intriguing idea…although, I have my gmail set up to check for mail every 30 seconds or so (maybe every minute), so I don’t actually ever refresh the inbox.

  3. As much as I like to think I’ve grown up, my reaction to the amount of email in my in-box tells me I have a long way to go.

    When my email box is nearly empty or full of junk mail, I flash back to being dissed by the cool kids at school. It’s like when I was picked last for a team; or my friends thought it was funny to say, “Let’s ditch Cara!” and then run off when I wasn’t looking; or when that one psycho boyfriend didn’t tell me he was breaking up with me, but simply started ignoring me one day and never spoke to me again. Poor, poor pitiful me.

    Then the email starts pouring in again and I feel overwhelmed, yet deluded with a disproportionate sense of importance: “Crap, I’ll never answer all this and keep up with my work, but who cares? They like me! They really like me!”

    • Ha ha…your comment had me laughing out loud. “The like me! They really like me!”

      I know exactly what you mean. 🙂

  4. I’m not like that with email, but I am like that with twitter! Speaking of which… a certain friend from St. Louis has not tweeted me in quite a while.


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