I’m not exactly proud of this, but last month I finished replying to all my emails from 2005.
That year I was stuck in Auckland for an extra day due to the airport there being fogged in. I said to another traveller, ‘Well, I won’t catch up on emails now till the end of the year.’ He looked at me as though I was kidding. Except I was being unduly optimistic since it took 16 years to finish replying to everyone.
Today I replied to the last one from 2006, and fortunately, the AOL address appears to be current.
I feel like I’m Ringo Starr in that early Simpsons episode who insisted on replying to all his Beatles fan mail personally, even though it was now the 1990s.
I never had the quantity he had, but the pattern wasn’t particularly healthy: new emails would come in, I’d have to reply to those, and non-urgent ones got pushed up the inbox.
These old emails were actually very nice and courteous ones, so they weren’t of subjects or by writers whom I was trying to avoid.
The writer of the first one had since retired but I still tracked him down to apologize, as I have done with the second who, as far as I can tell, remains active.
I felt that at the least they deserved the courtesy of a reply, even if my timing was lousy.
Why am I blogging about this? Probably to tell others not to follow my example. And to get off social media, which I’m sure eventually played a part in further delays. Why poke about on some tiny phone keyboard when you can structure your day better with a desktop machine and type more efficiently?
I have some fond memories of dial-up and not being constantly connected because you planned the emails you needed to send out. Your imagination could be fuelled by your offline time. We have to make the decision to get offline and take responsibility for how we spend our time. I suspect that is what I am rediscovering these days, including reading paper books more than I used to. I’m sure there’s a resurgence of printed matter lying in wait as people tire of the division and mindlessness of some of the most popular websites on our planet right now. And it’ll be the trendy young people, those who see from our example what a waste of time these sites are, who’ll drive it.