Got an iPhone or some sort of portable telecommunications device which supports push notifications? Take a look at its home screen and count how many notifications you’ve got. Not counting emails, I have 39, and I know the second I go through all those apps and “clear” them, they’ll be back with a vengeance.
The same is true with emails. My inbox count on my iPhone has been hovering at somewhere around the 650-700 mark for a long time now, and there seems to be absolutely no way to shrink it down. My GMail button in Chrome claims I have 948 messages, but I think that’s the total in my inbox, not unread. And like the notifications, I know that as soon as I batter the shit out of my inbox and get that number down to something approaching zero (it can never be zero, because there’s always at least one message you find that you think “I’ll just leave that in my inbox, I might want to refer to that later”, conveniently forgetting the fact you have labels, folders and a search facility) those messages will be back to haunt me. Well, not those same messages, but some new ones.
It’s the age of Web 2.0 that has done this to us, of course. The fact that we get bombarded with messages from various social networks on a minute-by-minute basis, everything vying for our attention (when in fact most of these emails are asinine, vapid crap that we really don’t need — who gives a fuck if someone just commented on a photo you were tagged in? Check it later.) and, in many cases, causing the important stuff to get lost.
I remember back in the CompuServe days, receiving an email was A Big Deal (particularly if it was from Julia, at least until The Incident) because it didn’t necessarily happen every day. Largely because not everyone Had The Internet, because some people didn’t have a modem, or others were concerned about phone bills, or whatever. But at that time — oh, that golden time — you were lucky to get five emails a week, and certainly none inviting you to extend your penis with Biblical quotes (and no, sadly I’m not making that up).
I guess the solution would be, of course, to turn off notifications and to stop Twitter, Facebook and whatever else from emailing me every time someone in my network does ANYTHING… but then how will I know that someone just tagged me in 300 photos? (With an email for every photo, obv.)
In other news, it’s probably about time I cleaned out my aforementioned GMail inbox. I’m going in… if you don’t hear from me in 3 hours I’ve probably died.