"Take My Wife, Please!"

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We all love e-mail, but there are some people who love it just a little too much. Information Week recently showcased a survey stating that 73.8% of e-mail users consider e-mail to be "essential to their life." How essential? A majority of those surveyed would just as soon give up chocolate or coffee rather than their e-mail account. The article even claimed that some people would prefer to give up deodorant rather than e-mail, which is good because I think we would all prefer communicating with those people online, rather than in person.

Ten thousand of its customers were surveyed by Incredimail Limited, a software company apparently for people who are addicted to e-mail. The most astounding statistic here is that 6% of e-mail users would rather lose their home than lose e-mail. You know what? If they need it, I'm perfectly willing to trade my e-mail account to them in exchange for their home. I'll even throw in my work account, because in my experience that tends to get the most e-mail. By the way, my boss is probably going to want you to e-mail that funding summary report to him by the end of the week. Thanks.

Of course, I'm hardly one to talk. I've long been addicted to e-mail. I love hearing the little ding that signifies a new message. Although it usually isn't, it could always be something really cool. I find it a little annoying that e-mail programs don't seem to accept fractions at the "Check e-mail every __ minutes" option. And why do they automatically assume the plural there?

Not only do I send reminder e-mails to myself, sometimes I respond to them too: "Good job remembering the milk, Joe!" I find that positive reinforcement is very important, even by e-mail!

I don't even mind spam, if only because it's e-mail that I don't have to do anything with. How many of you have heard that ding at work and thought "No, not another e-mail" only to be relieved to find out that it's only spam? "Thank you, Nigerian Wire Fraud Guy! I don't think I could have taken on another project."

Still, I guess I don't like e-mail that much. Call me silly, but I would prefer to have a nice, warm home, if only for a place to put my computer. Besides, you can only steal so much wireless Internet access.

The great thing about surveys like this is that they make us all feel better about ourselves. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to learn that there is an entire 6% of the populace more pathetic than me. I may be addicted to e-mail, but at least I'm not shivering under the highway overpass with my laptop looking desperately for a wireless access point because I gave away my home in order to keep my e-mail. Spare some G-Mail, anyone?

The survey also says that 14.9% of e-mail users (and at this point I stress the word "users") would rather live without their spouse or significant other than have no e-mail access. This is good because they might just have to. ("What? You gave away our house to keep your e-mail??!!!")

This last statistic may not be that revealing, however. 14.9 is also the percentage of people who were hoping that their spouse or significant other would just go away anyway. It's a good thing this e-mail survey came along or else they would have had to find another reason. ("The New York Times reports that 14.9% of people would rather live without their spouse or significant other than give up broccoli.") Quite possibly, 14.9 may also be the percentage of people who are having an online affair right this moment, so this is all very convenient for them.

Meanwhile, 7 % of those surveyed have actually broken up with someone by e-mail. ("Sorry, they said they'd take my e-mail away if I didn't dump you, so bye.") Another 7% would like to break up with somebody by e-mail, but unfortunately they aren't dating anyone at the moment on account of using e-mail all the time. These may or may not be the same people who would give up their deodorant to keep e-mail.

  • http://JoeLavin.com

    A periodic humor column, disguised as a blog. New columns published on Tuesdays or not as the case may be.

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  • I've written for Slate, The Boston Globe Magazine, Salon, McSweeney's, WBUR Radio, The Christian Science Monitor, The Globe and Mail, and many other publications. Thanks for dropping by. I hope you enjoy my Internet column.

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