My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 5 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Switch Off

From Day and Night in the Irish Independent, Sept 14

The email of the species is more deadly than the mail. I wish I had been the smarty-pants that coined that quote rather than that hack Stephen Fry, because it perfectly sums up my love-hate relationship with "the electronic mail" of late.

Fry meant those words in the context of how email can destroy careers, relationships and even whole societies (probably) with one mistaken click. But I use the quote to throw email in the dock and charge it as the shameless, domineering time thief that it is. J'accuse!

You see, I think I have a problem (now now, be nice). I just might be addicted to email — as well as other online messaging services. Hell, throw in the whole internet in general. It's not enough for me to be available on email for 8-10 hours whilst at work 5 days a week. I'll come home at night and I'm straight back on it.

As soon as my laptop turns on, it automatically signs me in to MSN, which then notifies everyone I'm connected with that I'm online and ready, if not always eager, to chat. As soon as my Gmail account is open, I can become available to instant message every other Gmailer in my phone book. A quick sign-in into Bebo then opens me up for messages, mails and comments on that front too.

I think my email, compulsion let's call it, stems from the fact that it's my main contact point for work. It's actually possible these days to be employed by someone without ever once meeting them and so I've become accustomed to just constantly checking in to see if anything has come up. It's exhausting just describing that whole process, never mind actually participating in it. But this seems to be the reality of modern life anymore.

Even take mobile phones as an example. Mine seems to be constantly on the go, mainly due to my insane text message trigger-happiness. Even when I try get some peace by turning off my phone at night, friends can react with bewildered admonishment. "I was trying to call you at 2.30am," they say. To which I reply, a) that's why I turn it off in the first place and b) if George W. Bush can go to bed at 9.30 every night and not be disturbed until 6.30 the next morning, surely it's okay for me not to be contactable 24/7?

It seems that it's just impossible anymore to completely shut off for any length. That's partly my own fault, I admit, but the problem is, if everyone else is living this way, it can be very easy for you to fall way behind if you don't keep pace.

Or can it? I recently moved apartment and so didn't have broadband for the first few weeks. I was going up the walls waiting for it, but, after a few days of cold turk-E, I realised that I didn't really miss the time thiefs of Bebo, MSN or Facebook all that much.

What was I missing really? Hours spent trawling through friends' photos, doing their surveys, chatting idly over nothing in particular, looking up clips on YouTube, following link after link on various blogs?

All those things are fine in moderation, you'll agree. But what I can't escape is the fact that I don't seem to have the time to finish reading a book these days. Newspapers pile up unread. CDs purchased weeks ago are still in their packaging. That gym pass is turning yellow from age and neglect. I'm not getting enough time to myself, or enough sleep for that matter. And if all it takes is something as simple as pushing a button to achieve, why then is switching off — in every sense of the word — so damn hard?

No comments: