Don’t blame the medium for our inbox anxiety. The more fundamental issue is how work dominates our lives
I am about to defend the seemingly indefensible: email, the inbox, all of it. And yes, I’m offering this case at a time when it might sound especially unlikely. This is the season of holiday responder messages and out-of-office replies. The back-and-forth of delayed communications makes email an especially draining project during the summer.
I’m not unfamiliar with the paralysing anxiety that settles in when I see a notification that my unread messages total some ungodly number. I probably owe an email to a percentage of people reading this. (Sorry! Things are a bit busy!) And I’d love to never see the words “hope this message finds you well” again in my life. But the decentralised wonder that is email isn’t the cause of my stress; the real problem is work and too much of it, as relayed through these messages. When it comes to communications systems, email – a technology that’s 50 years old this year – is hard to beat.