I was reading Nataly’s post about conquering email and noticed a commenter said she’d gotten hers under control - well, her work email. Her personal email was admittedly still a mess. I found myself wondering not about the woman’s organizational skills, but about how many email addresses she had.
I have two. Well, I have two email addresses that I actively check. According to the settings of my Gmail account, I actually have four email addresses that funnel into my main one. I’ve also discarded a few in the last year in an effort to streamline my life.
I have two Facebook pages, a personal one and one for my blog . I have two active websites, including one promoting my work as a freelance writer . I have accounts on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Foursquare.
I have one phone number (OK, two if you count the one from Google Voice that I never give out.)
I can be reached at any time, any number of ways. That sounds like a good thing, but I wonder if our plethora of communication tools is actually making it more difficult to connect with people.
The first thing I do when I get up is check my email . I then move on to Facebook (both pages) and Twitter, checking for any new mentions or messages. I hit refresh on my email again before popping open Instagram. After about 45 minutes, I’m now ready to actually get out of bed and say good morning to my family. I repeat this exhaustive check-in process several times a day.
It frightens me to think about how many hours I devote to checking for messages each week. Some days I don’t have enough time left over to actually respond, especially with lengthy emails, but I wonder if I would if I had a few less social networks on which I was afraid of ignoring people.
The checking in has become habitual for me, I admit. I shut off the reminders on my phone — nothing dings, shakes, or flashes when I get a new message — in a meager attempt to break my addiction. The result is just more use of the refresh button.
(I just checked my email on my phone again before finishing that paragraph.)
Checking emails, Twitter, etc. etc. etc. has become my go-to time filler. I look when I’m standing in line, going to the bathroom, or waiting for the commercials to finish. I look for new replies while I’m waiting for the tub to fill or the water on the stove to boil. Someone might be trying to reach me!
The thing is, I have two kids. I lament the speed at which they’re growing up and how soon they will be too far away to talk to. My oldest son is already spending more and more of his time on his own digital screen, leaving me with precious few opportunities to actually talk to him. And I’m spending them checking to see if anyone is being ignored.
I’m afraid to miss out on a new message, but I know it’s causing me to miss out on the fleeting moments of real connection. I am, like most of us, entirely too easy to reach, and my attention is too hard to hold.
I’m just not sure what to do about it.