Speaking of Mailstroms, today’s NYT has a nice article on email…(Got 2 extra hours for your email?). One cause of the stress surrounding email is its uncertain role in our culture. In the beginning of the telephone, people didn’t know what to call for and it took generations to make the change from calling for emergencies, to reaching out to touch someone, to walking around with a cellphone implanted in your ear. One of my old design professors, a brit, said he still cringes when the phone rings as, in his generation, phone calls meant only bad news.
Email is in its cultural infancy and there’s little common understanding of the when, why, how of using it. Especially at work:
“We are all addicted to it on some level,” [one woman] said of e-mail. “There is a fear that if you don’t check e-mail, you are missing something major. If you don’t answer it right away, you look incompetent; you are not competing properly. Your client, your customer, your boss will move on to the next person. That is stressful.”
But it is clear email is taking up too much time–a burden of the ease of networking. As one executive says: “By the time I got done triaging the e-mail, I didn’t have energy to do the rest of the work.” Maybe that explains the decline in television viewership.