Sorry I Haven't Written

Joe Lavin's Humor Column

From Computoredge

Sorry I Haven't Written

May 31, 2002

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I know. I owe you e-mail. I'm really sorry. I keep meaning to write, but I just haven't gotten my act together. I almost wrote to you yesterday, but then I started surfing the web, and the next thing I knew it was time to sleep and I still hadn't written to you. But I promise I'll e-mail today. Or maybe tomorrow at the latest. Really.

I'm still not sure why I can't seem to write e-mail anymore. Years ago, I was obsessed with it. I would respond to messages within hours -- sometimes even minutes. Now, it's more like days or weeks. Back then, e-mail was exciting. I would write to friends. I would write to family. I would even write to complete strangers who had stumbled upon my web page and taken me up on my invitation to say hi. Now, I'm lucky if I manage to e-mail myself a to-do list from my home account to my work account.

Whenever I do try to empty my inbox, I just end up procrastinating on the web. The other day, I even found myself reading about figure skating instead of e-mailing. I don't even like figure skating. What's wrong with me?

I'm not sure, but one thing is clear: I am now a bad e-mailer. So many of my friends deserve an apology.

For example, my friend Linda, who lives in Hong Kong, e-mailed me a month ago, and I've yet to respond. Sometimes, she too takes a month to write, so that our e-mails almost always begin with, "I'm sorry I haven't written for so long. I've just been so busy." I have a feeling she really is busy, so I find it's best not to mention that reading about figure skating is what has kept me busy. Linda, I'm sorry.

And then there's Jeena, my friend from Seattle. Jeena, I'm very -- wait, you no longer live in Seattle, do you? You've moved to Los Angles since I last e-mailed, haven't you? Um, sorry. How's L.A. treating you anyway?

And, Anna, thanks for sending me the evite, though -- let's face it -- you do live in the same apartment as me and walking to my room would probably have been quicker than logging on. I do plan to attend the birthday party, and I'll RSVP soon. It's just that I went to your page to say that I was coming and noticed that everyone else had left a witty comment. I'm sorry. It was late, and I just couldn't think of anything. I was going to write "Woohoo!" but then I saw that Kevin had already put that down. I almost wrote, "Let's rock and roll," but that seemed a little lame. I promise tomorrow that I'll RSVP with an appropriately excited comment.

These days, I've actually reached the point where I'll just phone friends who e-mail me. This makes no sense, of course. E-mail, after all, was supposed to free us from the phone, but often the phone is just so much easier. When my friend Mark e-mails, for example, I simply call him. "You live six miles away. You don't get e-mail from me," I tell him. I'm too busy e-mailing -- well, not e-mailing, actually -- far away friends to write to a nearby friend like him. If you're a free phone call away, chances are I'll be phoning.

I've talked with several friends about this (by phone or in person), and they too feel a certain malaise when it comes to e-mail. The thrill is gone. These days, just about everyone has e-mail, and we all receive far too much of it -- so much that many like me just can't keep up with it.

Here's exactly how prevalent e-mail has become. Now, even my mother is nagging me for e-mail. "How come you never call?" has suddenly been replaced with "how come you never e-mail?"

Then again, I suppose it could be a lot worse. At least, I'm still getting e-mail. As frustrated as I am, I still love hearing the little ding that tells me that I've got mail.

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