E-Mail: A Modest Proposal
In this techno, fast-paced, get-it-done-now world, one can become overcome by envy when watching old films where a character receives a letter and then ponders the response for days or even weeks.
At some point shortly after e-mail became a popular form of communication, an expectation arose that e-mail messages, even those of no urgency, must be answered promptly. Well, if there was an election, I didn't have a vote.
E-mail is a marvelous form of communication and yet informal ground rules have turned it into a generator of stress. Its convenience causes people to send far more e-mail messages than they would have sent had their means been paper, envelope, and stamp. Unfortunately, we have not developed standards to civilize the process.
I propose this simple rule: Unless an e-mail message is marked Urgent, it should be treated the same as a regular letter. That means it can be answered within 10 days without the stigma of tardiness. This is faster than the old paper version, but is still timely and it forces the sender, rather than the communication method, to declare the urgency of the matter.
We have no choice. Some technology here and some more over there and before long we will have lost many of the quiet pleasures of life, one of which is the time to think.