Thursday, January 29, 2009

Email guilt.

I have a guilt-trigger mechanism built into my inbox. It's called "I don't delete an email until I have responded to it." So then my 300 email checks a day are always tempered by the self-induced guilt of "Why am I expecting an email? I HAVEN'T WRITTEN BACK TO ANYONE!"

I used to get that way when I would check the mailbox (the real live one. Remember that one? Where you get bills and ads and everything you ordered on the Internet?) and be disappointed that I didn't have a letter. WHY WOULD I? I HADN'T WRITTEN A LETTER TO ANYONE!

So I started writing real handwritten letters to people. The truth is that they have a return ratio of 5:1 (five letters sent out will get me one back), but I do it anyway. I don't mind--I like sending letters almost as much as I like getting them. Call me the Santa of letter writing--better to give than receive!

But back to my email inbox. I don't know why I do it to myself--I'm not caught up in RIDICULOUS CATHOLIC GUILT (which I am sooooooo unable to relate to. Yes, I am Catholic, but no, I have never understood what "Catholic guilt" is, much less felt it myself. The Catholic Church I was brought up in DID NOT INVOLVE GUILT and as I grew up and everyone was talking smack about how they're A LAPSED CATHOLIC [is anyone a lapsed ANYTHING-OTHER-THAN-CATHOLIC? You never hear them call themselves such] or making weird references to being "a recovering Catholic," I was COMPLETELY unable to understand what they were talking about. SIDEBAR!). I just need it to keep myself on track.

I once kept an email in my inbox for two years. It was the most recent draft of a paper that I was working on with a professor from a class I took extra-curricularly and we were going to submit it to a journal. DID I EVER GET AROUND TO REVISING IT? No. But was I able to forget that I DIDN'T? NOPE!

I owe at least five people emails back. Vee suggests that I just shoot a quick email saying, "Hey, I haven't forgotten about you--I'll send one soon." But that feels like the equivalent of sending a birthday card with "Happy Birthday" preprinted inside and not adding a note of my own.

Sometimes I wish technology only allowed me to check my email once a day. Like checking the real mailbox--email would only be delivered once a day. At least then I wouldn't be banging myself over the head 15 times a day by pretending, THIS TIME, that I'll actually write back right away.

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