12, June, 2007 2 Comments
Recently, venture capitalist Fred Wilson declared a “21st century kind of bankruptcy”. In a posting on his blog about technology, Wilson announced he was giving up on responding to all the e-mail piled up in his inbox: “I am so far behind on e-mail that I am declaring bankruptcy,” he wrote. “If you’ve sent me an e-mail (and you aren’t my wife, partner, or colleague), you might want to send it again. I am starting over.”
What he did is not uncommon. Last September, the recording artist Moby sent an e-mail to all the contacts in his inbox announcing that he was taking a break from e-mail for the rest of the year.
Some days, I feel like doing the same. While email is supposed to bring convenience to communication, it also brings a lot of junk mail, and alot of stress as well. How many of us are unable to not reply to an email. When you see an unread message in your inbox, it just irks you to let it sit there. You just have to open it and then read it, and respond to it, or delete it or file it! You just have to do something with it. And if you are away for even a day, you will be swamped by an often unmanageable number of messages. It’s really hard to ignore email, and you feel somewhat guilty if you don’t respond once you read a message!
“The volume of e-mail traffic has nearly doubled in the past two years”, according to research firm DYS Analytics. And with so much spam and viruses, many users have started to swear off email! While a few brave ones go cold turkey, most tend to delete all messages and start with a clean slate.
“E-mail overload gives many workers the sense that their work is never done”, said senior analyst David Ferris, and with never-ending streams of emails, many feel like their work is never done, which can be too much to bear.
The term “e-mail bankruptcy” may have been coined as early as 1999 by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who studies the relationship between people and technology. Professor Sherry Turkle said she came up with the concept after researching e-mail and discovering that some people have fantasies about escaping their e-mail burden.
There could be something good coming out of this. Not using the email could force people to talk on the phone, or meet face to face, making communciation more human-like, enriching you in other ways!