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The Perpetual Fascination of Email

October 16, 2012   

It is that distinctive sound I can never escape: “buzz… buzz.”  A loud, protracted rattling that signals a new message on my phone.  Like a pesky fly that always finds its way to the ear, the promise of an unread email murmurs about my head, instantly drawing attention away from my computer screen, lab assignment or even lecture.  Assuming I am not in class, I instantly grab my phone and scan the message page—7 unread emails, all received within the last 15 minutes.

Hamilton sends a lot of emails.  So far today, I have received 39—no!  Make that 40.  My calculus professor just updated our assignment.  It’s a constant stream of new information, directing classes, clubs, practices everything…. I am fortunate enough to be one of those students constantly connected; my cell uploads emails constantly.  I distinctly recall the day I downloaded Gmail to my phone—it hasn’t stopped vibrating since.

I don’t think anyone looks where they are going on Martin’s Way.  Walking between classes, each student is fixated on their phone, checking email.  It’s a wonder we don’t crash into one another.  There is a constant need to immediately respond, to keep the little send/receive icon on the top of your phone lit up.  Computer email seems almost antiquated now—my sleek little laptop appears bulky and hefty in comparison.

However, I would not go so far as to call this instinct toward connectivity, this large online presence, a compulsion.  You learn quickly which emails are for you, and which are simply notices.  Most emails you can pay as much attention as a passing flyer on a window front.  If you want to read it, by all means go ahead and partake.  Otherwise, mark it "read" and move on.

In the course of writing this entry, I’ve received three new emails; my phone has crawled along the desk for all its vibration.  I now reenter the online deluge.