Friday, 23 December 2011

The beginning of the end ?

It was a long time coming. In retrospect its actually surprising that the backlash is starting only now. The backlash against email, I mean. A few days ago Atos Origin, a French IT company, started the ball rolling by announcing that it would ban email in the company by 2014. Now Volkswagen unions have struck a deal with the company that emails to their unionised employees would be switched off after office hours.

This had to happen. E Mail addiction is an extremely serious epidemic as this blogger observed here. It is a global pandemic of epic proportions. Walk into any office or meeting - you would see rows and rows of people peering into their screens or thumbing away at their Blackberries. Eerie scenes more suited for George Orwell's 1984.

Its well known that more than half the emails you get are completely useless. And you get a LOT of emails. For some reason your genes are so programmed that you have to see each and every one of them 15 nanoseconds after they arrive. The greatest attraction to mankind, even more than a gorgeous topless woman, is a blinking light on the Blackberry. Social norms still hold you back from pawing at the aforesaid lady. Nothing in the world - not even an earthquake - can keep you from grabbing the Blackberry.

This is what most of us do in offices. Either tap out or read useless stuff 50% of the time. And for years now, it has extended out of the office into our homes. We do the same inane stuff in bed, in the car, even in the loo. Absolutely waste of our lives.

Email, when it arrived, dramatically increased office productivity. Now I am willing to bet (and some distinguished academic has no doubt done research on this) that it has actually lowered productivity back to pre email days.

Consider this. Would you think it appropriate to talk all the time in the office and at home ? Why then is it OK to be emailing all the time ?? Shut the $%#@ thing off and do some real work.


gils said...

when letter writing was the way to send mails..makkal were prudent in usage of mails..athuvay email aana udanay..even hi hru ku kuda mail thaan :D akin to analog model cameras and digital..print eduthu develop pananumgarapo picture taking was selective and more creative..digitalla kandathu keatathu ellam taking.. :D luxury breeds laziness? :D

Prats said...

Absolutely true.... Wondering when my company would close it out... Email addiction is an epidemic.

Shachi said...

I recently cancelled the data plan on my phone so when I come home, I don't get online until the daughter sleeps. Also no internet until I reach work and after I leave or while running errands or while working out. I find so much more time to do meaningful things. We also do brainstorming sessions in conference rooms and also do dungeons where no laptop is allowed.

I agree, email has become a nuisance.

Ramesh said...

@gils- Trust you to come up with a profound explanation couched in humour ! Yes, luxury does breed laziness

@Prats - There is little chance of closing it ut, but a more balanced use is certainly possible

@Shachi - Very wise thing to do. Some people are doing likewise but more people are going in the opposite direction. The number of people who wake up in the middle of the night to check their Blackberry is astounding.

Sandhya Sriram said...

You know what, at some point in time, there were our famous green chit punch papers that Alex used to talk about very often. Now we have excel. of course, excel is an addiction, but it is a paradigm shift in the way we work. It has phenomenally shrunk communication networks, flexibility to manage multiple things at the same time and working across time zones.

email addiction is like santa - banta jokes. there is humour to it but i believe we should also grow out of it.

We make choices in our life. many of them. how many hours of work that we do, what tv programs we watch, what magazines we read, how we use the 24 hours that we have with us in life. if we have made a conscious choice to spend it looking at blackberry in the toilet, well its our choice. after all, arent we mature enough to decide what is right for us.

putting restraint on email is like saying, eat vegetarian food. its your choice end of the day :-)

Vishal said...

Thumbing away at blackberries or mobile phone sets eeks which in a way is extenstion of email addiction from laptops to cellphones. When I was in Singapore, I saw people on streets, in ths malls, buses, taxis everywhere glued to their cellphones. Imagine you see four supposedly good friend hanging out at some place and everyone is doing something on the cellphones all the time. What kind of hang out that is! That irks me the most. And infact it is not only email, this addiction applies to facebook, twitter etc. too... When employees dont utilize their productive time, the companies have to do something to get the productivity index up.

Ramesh said...

@Sandhya - As always a wonderful insightful comment. Very true what you say.

@Vishal - Yes indeed. This is a common sight. But see Sandhya's comment and its all a matter of peronal choice.

Deepa said...

I am a cell phone retard. The only thing I use it for is making and receiving a call. My husband gave me an iPhone to put some appreciation of mobile technology in me. But I feel blessed for all the reasons you listed above. And completely agree with gils said, if everyone was still on snail mails, I wonder if one would be flooded with all those mails like the web!

Ramesh said...

The trick, as with all luxuries in life, is to accept a dose of moderation. Society forces that moderation in the case of addictions like smoking or drinking. We are yet to see that force when it comes to E Mail.

Reflections said...

This is actually a more serious problem than most people realise. And it may not be obvious but it will have far-reaching consequences.
We cd be sitting anywhere, with anymore & the atmosphere is the, ping it goes every 5 seconds with the concerned person without a seconds delay reaching to chk the msg on his phone.

To me personally it's quite it is I'm quite worried tht I'm addicted to Blogger;-(

Ramesh said...

@Reflections - You are NOT addicted to Blogger, but even if you are, its one of the healthiest addictions in the world :)

rads said...

agree to an extent coz i think more than e-mail its facebook and twitter that keep us unnecessarily occupied wherever we are...

Reflections said...

I'm sooo relieved to hear that;-D

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