Take My Wife, Please!

by Joe Lavin

We all love e-mail, but there are some people who love it just a little
too much. Information Week recently showcased a survey stating that
73.8% of e-mail users consider e-mail to be “essential to their life.”
How essential? A majority of those surveyed would just as soon give up
chocolate or coffee rather than their e-mail account. The article even
claimed that some people would prefer to give up deodorant rather than
e-mail, which is good because I think we would all prefer communicating
with those people online, rather than in person.

Ten thousand of
its customers were surveyed by Incredimail Limited, a software company
apparently for people who are addicted to e-mail. The most astounding
statistic here is that 6% of e-mail users would rather lose their home
than lose e-mail. You know what? If they need it, I'm perfectly willing
to trade my e-mail account to them in exchange for their home. I'll even
throw in my work account, because in my experience that tends to get
the most e-mail. By the way, my boss is probably going to want you to
e-mail that funding summary report to him by the end of the week.
Thanks.

Of course, I'm hardly one to talk. I've long been
addicted to e-mail. I love hearing the little ding that signifies a new
message. Although it usually isn't, it could always be something really
cool. I find it a little annoying that e-mail programs don't seem to
accept fractions at the “Check e-mail every __ minutes” option. And why
do they automatically assume the plural there?

Not only do I send
reminder e-mails to myself, sometimes I respond to them too: “Good job
remembering the milk, Joe!” I find that positive reinforcement is very
important, even by e-mail!

I don't even mind spam, if only
because it's e-mail that I don't have to do anything with. How many of
you have heard that ding at work and thought “No, not another e-mail”
only to be relieved to find out that it's only spam? “Thank you,
Nigerian Wire Fraud Guy! I don't think I could have taken on another
project.”

Still, I guess I don't like e-mail that much. Call me
silly, but I would prefer to have a nice, warm home, if only for a place
to put my computer. Besides, you can only steal so much wireless
Internet access.

The great thing about surveys like this is that
they make us all feel better about ourselves. I can't tell you how
refreshing it is to learn that there is an entire 6% of the populace
more pathetic than me. I may be addicted to e-mail, but at least I'm not
shivering under the highway overpass with my laptop looking desperately
for a wireless access point because I gave away my home in order to
keep my e-mail. Spare some G-Mail, anyone?

The survey also says
that 14.9% of e-mail users (and at this point I stress the word “users”)
would rather live without their spouse or significant other than have
no e-mail access. This is good because they might just have to. (“What?
You gave away our house to keep your e-mail??!!!”)

This last
statistic may not be that revealing, however. 14.9 is also the
percentage of people who were hoping that their spouse or significant
other would just go away anyway. It's a good thing this e-mail survey
came along or else they would have had to find another reason. (“The New
York Times reports that 14.9% of people would rather live without their
spouse or significant other than give up broccoli.”) Quite possibly,
14.9 may also be the percentage of people who are having an online
affair right this moment, so this is all very convenient for them.

Meanwhile,
7 % of those surveyed have actually broken up with someone by e-mail.
(“Sorry, they said they'd take my e-mail away if I didn't dump you, so
bye.”) Another 7% would like to break up with somebody by e-mail, but
unfortunately they aren't dating anyone at the moment on account of
using e-mail all the time. These may or may not be the same people who
would give up their deodorant to keep e-mail.

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