Looking for Relief from a Flood of Email?

English: The New York Times building in New Yo...

English: The New York Times building in New York, NY across from the Port Authority. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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My recent hacking trauma has sent me to the ramparts, and I find myself increasingly on a soapbox railing against many things digital of late, things which are just plain stupid, often mean-spirited and a waste of time.

[Bear with me, there are many other writers concerned about these issues and headaches that somehow reduce our humanity as well as the quality and substance of our communications, and as I run across the more sensible and cogent, I’ll pass them onto you in the hopes you find them interesting too.]

Here’s one for starters right out of today’s New York Times

 The New York Times on its “Bits” page today ran a short but disturbing piece on a subject I suspect many of you are rankled by every single day.

“Looking for Relief from a Flood of Email” NYT 1/20/14

This one will really ring your bell and is worth the few minutes to check out.

Some snippets:

“You make it easy for people to do something, they will do more of it.”

“Studies have shown that all this email leads to an unproductive and anxiety-ridden workplace.” The daily tsunami for the average person has become overwhelming and unmanageable, and thus the good and necessary is drowned in the flood of the pointless and irrelevant.

” . . .in the workplace email has become a major barrier to efficiency.”

Net result? Most emails sent are deleted unread, and important, perhaps critical, communications go unnoticed.


“In the past, with letters, people put thought [Thought!?] into what they were going to write before they sent it . . . With digital, it’s send first, think later.”

Confession time for me: I rarely read my email anymore, only glance through it quickly, if nothing screams at me or gets my serious attention in the 30 seconds a day I give it anymore, I trash all of it and have done with it.

I know there are many more out there just as ruthless as I am with emails, probably hundreds of thousands even more draconian.

Email is history as far as I am concerned, and will be for most serious influencers, people who’ve got big things on their minds and deadlines.

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About Margaret Jean Langstaff

A lifelong critical reader with literary tastes, a novelist, short story writer, essayist, book critic, and professional book editor for many years. A consultant to publishers and authors, providing manuscript critiques and a full range of editorial services. A friend and supporter of all other readers and writers. A collector of signed modern first editions. Animal lover and tree hugger. Follow me on Twitter @LangstaffEditor
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6 Responses to Looking for Relief from a Flood of Email?

  1. Mikels Skele says:

    I have a twitter account, mainly to promote my blogs, and it’s even worse than email. Makes me wonder how effective it is anyway.


    • I feel the same way, Mikeles. I think digital communication contains within it the seeds of its own destruction. It’s free, instant, and much of it is anonymous a so invites deluges of spam, unwanted advertisements, and legions of trolls, flamers and whackos. As for Twitter, it has become so crammed full of noisy authors screaming “check out my book,” that trying to promote a book there is a waste of time, I think. Few pay any attention to that unintelligible din, they simply ignore tweets that have #book or some such in them.


      • Mikels Skele says:

        Yeah, I don’t find myself rushing out to buy any of the books I see advertised on twitter; my eyes just glaze over. I do check out some of the blogs, on the other hand. In other words, if it’s free and just a click away, twitter can work. Sorta. Given that I, for example, never see 99% of the stuff I allegedly follow. That would take many hours a day, and I don’t follow a lot.


  2. I am a remote employee (as are most professional writers) so I know what it’s like to be inundated with work email. The big issue arises from those who feel the need to “reply to all” when replying to the sender is adequate. If people would follow that simple rule and stop replying to all, then email clutter would significantly decrease.


  3. Right! And the author of the article makes exactly that point.


  4. I agree that Twitter can sometimes get a click on a blog or website if the subject is shocking, useful, inspiring, etc …in other words, if it pulls a trigger of potential interest in someone’s head, but most twitter-ites have the attention span of a gnat,the are not readers, they only skim a blog or site, and I suspect are often rumor chasers chasing rumor peddlers. Then there are twitter trolls, stalkers, flamers and evil folks deliberately putting out false alarming information or who are intent on ruining lives and reputations. Angry, vengeful, envious psychotic types and they create a lot of havoc and hurt people. Online anonymity is a large part of the problem.


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