Monday, May 29, 2006

Humor - Why I hate E-mail

You’ve Got Mail – Yeah So What.


The classic definition of E-mail states that it is an expensive system which allows an otherwise busy computer user to exchange meaningless messages with other computer users via a communication network. Alternately, I would define it as the place I go to if I want to de-work.

What is the big deal about Email really?

Why Email? If you really want to be heard, why not keep it simple? Why not pick up the phone and dial the guy sitting in the next cubicle, instead of writing long politically correct formatted sentences him?

Why the unnecessary overhead? The phone is a wonderful invention. It has withstood the test of time and Standard Chartered executives selling credit cards to HSBC employees. The telephone begs to be picked up, especially when the company is paying.

I can’t stand people who puff and put their chin out to the thought of using a phone. I really don’t see the point in wasting all the effort that Alexander Bell put in for growing his beard. Using the E-mail, when you can call toll free, seems like a complicated way to do things. It reminds me of my school headmaster, who for some reason loved to file an FIR every time I broke a chair, his nose or someone’s head at school instead of having a direct one-to-one chat with me. Why do we Indians have this fascination about writing things in multiple gaudy fonts when it will take seconds to speak the whole thing out aloud? The phone should not be ignored as an instrument of effective and fast communication except when the landlord calls.

Phones are my best friends as they do not allow complicated spreadsheets to come out of their receivers. They save a lot of time too.

Let me prove this to you. Let us try a small test. Take a watch, ask one of your bosses to call you and say out aloud,

“Gaurav, Could you please complete the task assigned to you by today evening. That the final deadline?”

You will probably get results along the lines of:

Time to dial : 10 seconds.
Time to speak : 5 seconds.
Time to clarify : 10
Time to pretend that you didn’t hear the part about the deadline: 5 seconds.

Within half a minute the conversation is complete. Communication has been performed. You get the message. The deadline has just been extended.

You also get the kicks of feeling important and busy in front of the office crowd when your phone rings while you are playing solitaire.

Can the same effect be achieved by thumping the keyboard out loudly and staring blankly at the screen?

Try doing the same with Email. Opening the E-mail application will take 10 seconds, getting distracted by the Sharapova photo mail will account for 25 minutes, a minute for writing the sentence, and 30 minutes for rewriting it 10 times.

Am I coming across two strong? Err…Am I being forceful enough? Should I remove the ‘please’ from the sentence, Should I address him as Sir Lord Almighty? Should I put in my signature with the logo of the company thrown in?

Then there is the threat of the phone ringing and distracting you while you are e-mailing someone to distract him. You get irate, you answer the call and by the time you are through with the phone, you forget everything about the e-mail you were writing. You close the Compose Mail Window and restart Solitaire.

Compare this with the telephone method and you would realize that the telephone cannot distract you since you are already using it. The only distraction perhaps is the irregular heart beat you experience when you hear the words ‘deadline’. Your hearts starts racing, but then you notice the static that is not there, you cry “What, What? Can’t hear you…What is the timeframe…?” then with a flick of the wrist you put the phone down. Then you disconnect the power cable just to make sure.

The same thing in an email produces different results. You sense a heart attack coming when you see ‘dead line’ on the monitor. You close your eyes, open them again - hoping that the words will disappear by the sheer strength of your refusal to accept reality.

They don’t. Microsoft pays engineers a thousand dollars an hour to ensure that mails stare back at you till you break into a sweat or rush to the restroom.

Time taken: 30 minutes to 1 hour.

You also have to deal with the grammar angle. Spellings are a non-issue on the phone. Even the meanest boss (the type who expects you to do a review in 1 hour, something that would take a normal unit of one brain, two eyes and two hands about 20 hours to do) won’t ask you to spell out ‘Exasperation’ correctly on the phone. He might say, “What? Once or twice but that is pretty much where he will draw the line.

E-mails leave a trail. It is like stabbing your neighbor, dipping your feet in his blood and walking through the snow, back across the street to your home. Every mistake you do is recorded somewhere. Every key you press gets permanently imprinted on an untouched by hand Silicon chip. You always have to provide an explanation. You can never delete E-mails permanently, irrespective of what the user guide tells you. There are databases hidden in nuclear silos that ensure that you have to provide an explanation.

The whole situation is ironic. It is like going back in time through the whole evolution exercise.

Proper speech came after some highly improper and inappropriate cave drawings.
Why go back to the written word when evolution has ensured that the larynx (The complicated English substitute for the simple English term Voice Box) is refined to such a point that spoken language has become a reality after millions years of climbing up trees, carving the figures of men and women in dark caves, filling in the outlines with tiger blood, and thumping hairy 300 cc craniums? Forget Bell, Do you really want to waste the sacrifices of the early Australopithecus who dealt with cough bouts brought on by their quest for speech without any brandy to resort to?


1 comment:

Aparna said...

Funny as ever!!!