Considering the situation, it’s somewhat remarkable that I was able to get around to writing this post. It’s also amazing that I ever manage to drink coffee or make toast or shower or dress myself appropriately (or, more often, inappropriately) or drag myself out of the house for Sunday dim sum. Why is it so amazing? Because I’ve realized lately that I spend most of my time refreshing my email. (In fact, I’ve already done it three times while writing the above statement.) Why do I get so much satisfaction from the little new message symbol that pops up every time I get mail?
I should note two things. First, I’m not the only one. My boyfriend, who is more disciplined than me but not immune, gets most of his work done in the tub. And a recent story over at Science Daily examines a study of adults’ ability to regulate desire and found that email is harder to resist than cigarettes or alcohol or even sex. (To be fair, having sex takes more time – though not if you add up all of the time I spend checking my email in a single day.)
Second, it’s not just email that I’m addicted to. I go bananas for regular mail, as well. Every weekday morning, when I get out of bed, I think: Oh boy, the mail is coming today. Then I drink coffee and listen for the noise of mail being delivered. But almost every day, I’m disappointed with flyers, bills, political literature, and the like. What do I think might be coming in the mail? My preference is for magazines and cheques – though the delivery of those items are rare. So it’s tough for me to explain my own behaviour. (About both this, and other items. For example, why do I keep buying tights that just rip as soon as I put one foot in? Is there a solution to this problem? I have, like, $7,000 in sunken costs invested in this disaster and no exit strategy.)
But I’m going to take a crack at the mail addiction, anyhow. Mail – electronic or otherwise – represents possibility. Just because I receive mundane notifications and requests 99.99% of the time doesn’t mean that today won’t be the day when something amazing happens. And since nobody uses the telephone anymore, this life changing thing will have to come either through the mail slot on the front door or my electronic inbox. (Dear universe, please don’t send me life-changing news by text message. And I’ll barf if you send it via Twitter.)
Or maybe I’m just bored and need both a distraction and a little attention. Anyone else with me?