Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
“YOU’VE GOT MAIL – A LOT OF MAIL”
A recent news report explained that over 6 billion email messages are sent each day in the United States. My guess is 5 billion of them are unsolicited offers to get-rich-quick, lose weight, purchase Viagra, or visit pornographic websites.
That works out to be almost 22 emails for every man, woman, and child in the country. Of course, not every person in the country has a computer. We can’t count young toddlers since the average American child does not get his first email account until about the same time he gets his first credit card offer: age five. (The average American child visits his first porn website at age six; downloads his first bomb-making instructions at age eight; and purchases his first order of Viagra at age ten—using the credit card he got at age five—to see what happens when the little blue pill is put in Sparky’s dog food.)
We also cannot count many senior citizens, especially if my mom is any indication. I’ve tried repeatedly to get her to go “online.”
“I’ll give you my old computer, Mom.”
“No thanks, dear.”
“I’ll set up the email account for you.”
“I’ll pay for your AOL subscription.”
“I’ll teach you how to use it.”
“WHERE DID I GO WRONG?!” she finally wails. “Why can’t you just ask for money like other adult children? Why do you have to torture me with this computer stuff?”
Many senior citizens have a phobia about high-tech devices. Maybe that’s the case with my mom. Or maybe she’s worried dad will start making credit card purchases online…and not for Sparky.
When you rule out all the people who do not have access (or refuse to have access) to a computer, it means that those of us who do use email probably average well over 50 messages per day. And that means every day, day after day after day. Have you ever come home after a week’s vacation and turned on your computer? “You… have… four… hundred… seventy… one… messages.”
The news report said that 6 billion email messages are sent each day. It did not indicate how many messages are received each day. And by received I don’t mean merely that the digital file was successfully transmitted into the receiving computer’s inbox folder, but rather that the message was successfully pondered by the receiving person’s brain.
Countless times I’ve asked the question, “Did you get my email?” only to hear in reply, “Gee…no, I don’t think so, but I’m having a problem with my email program.”
“Trouble with your service provider?” I ask.
“Your phone line? Your modem?”
“Your hard drive? A computer virus?”
“Well, what’s the problem with your email?”
“Umm, I never bother to check it anymore.”
It’s bad enough many timely, urgent email messages are never even read. But what’s worse are the zillions of old, useless email messages sitting patiently on a hard drive somewhere waiting to resurface at the most inopportune moment and cause untold embarrassment.
People still think email messages are similar to private conversation: words are spoken from one person’s mouth to another person’s ears, and the moment the last word is uttered, the message is gone, vanished into the ether forever.
With email, however, every keystroke is permanently stored. And courts have ruled that all inter-company email messages are the property of the corporation and can be viewed by management.
It’s one thing to type a note making fun of the boss’ new toupee, but it’s even worse when employees conduct romances via email. Somehow those cute little expressions of affection don’t sound quite so cute anymore when recited by corporate attorneys during a sexual harassment hearing.
“Mr. Dweebler, in the 300 email messages you sent to Ms. Baumshell, exactly what did you mean when you referred to yourself as, ‘The love monkey’?”
“Uh, I’d rather not say, sir. May I please be excused for a moment so I can jump from a twelfth story window?”
Maybe my mom was right after all. Life was a lot simpler and less confusing before the online, email revolution. I should give Mom a call and apologize. And I’ll really brighten her day by asking for money.
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