I remember when I was growing up, I’d hear my mom talk about how much she hated mail every day when it came in. I didn’t understand it. I loved getting mail. The mailbox was this little slice of awesome that sometimes delivered super exciting things to me. How could anyone hate that? Getting the mail was a high point of each day. A Charlie and the Chocolate Factory moment when you never knew what golden ticket might await you.
I still don’t hate mail. I don’t particularly look forward to it, but just because there’s rarely anything there to excite or terrify me.
But my inbox–that’s another story.
I hate my inbox for the same reason my mom hated the mailbox. It’s the gateway from hell, where a never ending flood of information and Stuff I Have to Do Something About pours in, all of it demanding attention and decisions. My inbox is filling up all the time. It doesn’t help that I have two of them–one for work and one for personal stuff. And the things just won’t stay empty.
I’ll work and slave to get to “inbox(0)” status. The moment I reach it, I turn away for one second–ONE SECOND–and that lousy thing has like 15 new messages waiting for me.
They’re seldom good messages, is the thing. I mean, now and then I’ll get fan mail telling me how much someone loved my book, and that’s just plain lovely. 100% great. But just like getting a tax return check in the mail doesn’t make the flood of other stuff any better, that fan mail doesn’t offset all the rest of it: ads, updates, listservs, church emails, school emails, scheduling conflicts, questions, requests.
I hates it. Hates it with a burning passion reserved by most people for post offices or DMVs or hobbitses.
But you know what’s the worst thing about it? I can’t look away. I hate my email, and yet I’m addicted to checking it. Because what if something awesome just showed up in there? What if I sold a book? What if a Nigerian Prince just left me a buhzillion dollars?
How sick is that? I know there’s hardly ever going to be anything good, and yet I keep going back every fifteen minutes or so.
At least with an actual mailbox, my mom knew she was just getting mail once a day. Now we have mail that comes 24/7, always ready to screw up your day with some awful news. (Note: I haven’t received any awful news today. Yet.)
Remember when getting email was all Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan? These days it’s all Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.