My name is Adrian and I am an Email-holic

Vices, we all have them, be it a light tipple to a more telling addiction.. the idea of a taste, a sensation, a thrill keeps us hooked for more. Years ago I discovered I had faint OCD, which manifested itself in my compulsive obsession with one particular thing or craze, whether it was worthy or not. I manifested a new obsession in university by buying literally anything and everything just to keep feeling satisfied by my never-ending stuff. Whilst I now have done a 180′ and managed to rein in my seemingly shaky finances, I realised my current obsession may be the most crippling of all.

Emails, the indication to my mind of technological insulation. It was around 2003 I set my account to gain stimulating email conversions with pen pals all over the world, (I later found out that having greatbritain in my email made people think I could be some sort of smug nationalist) I thereafter became obsessed by the buzz of the ‘unread messages’ pre-screener page, and would hanker for more unread messages daily. I would contact anyone from my school – whether we had anything new to say in the four hours since we’d already met – and even tried to set up an email dialogue between my closest friends under the tag ‘groovygang.’ Unsurprisingly, it failed massively. Whenever I read over these old messages, I weeped for my former self. Terrible grammar, uncapitalised names, question marks followed uncomfortably by full stops, a whole liturgy of ugly communication skills and inane ‘lols’ and ‘rofls,’ anyway, the buzz, the thrill continued. When Facebook chat was activated I instantly deactivated it. I couldn’t enjoy such a device of communication if it affected the amount of emails I received. Therefore I would metaphorically hang around Facebook hoping for the odd picture comment or the wall post, as opposed to actually chatting to people there and then. The obsession with getting emails continued. Whenever I could subscribe to a newsletter, well you can safely assume I did. Even if the email was junk, I frequently didn’t confine it to spam straightaway. Unless, of course, it was an advert for a penis enlargement or a rather ill-thought out Western Union request from a millionaire from Burkino Faso, which never sounded plausible.

It was a recent revelation from university however that made me reconsider. Like everyone I built a great chunk of my popularity on the availability of Facebook friends. If I had 400, it was obvious that I was great fun, very sociable and had all the desirable qualities for my shallow generation. On one particular night I’d had enough. None of these recently added people I knew well enough to construct a special subject on Mastermind about. Failing that, half of these people I’d only met in a nightclub for the equivalent of an Usher song. Some I added for pictures, some added me for pictures. I couldn’t let this continue. With an electronic dagger, I hacked through the garbage. I then got majorly ahead of myself and made a status saying that my profile was as exclusive as the Bullingdon club. I realised about ten minutes after making it that it was actually nowhere near as exclusive, morse the pity. Whilst culling the false idols of my life, I realised that receiving emails from Debenhams, Hilary’s Blinds, Norwich Council, the Go Abroad newsletter, Asda etc did not make me feel like a man of emails, it made me feel rather lame and bereft. I again got my electronic sword out and unsubcribed from anything and everything. After that, I felt worryingly empty about my emails. Could I really get Groupon and Daily Mail emails only? Maybe though it was the fact I was checking my emails about twenty-seven times a day. The shock became even more pronounced when Facebook changed its email settings. Whilst most people, I suspect will rejoice about Facebook no longer sending an email for anything and everything, I actively enjoyed that generic message: Hello Adrian, you have {umpteenth} unread messages.

I am still mourning the emptiness of my email account. I remember the recent weeks when my email was temporarily blocked from my workplace and I used to run home to see how many exc iting, worthwhile emails I got. It was again another disappointing discovery; to discover I haven’t unsubcribed from IKEA Family and could get a discount on bedding for kids. Why would I have signed up to such a stupid newsletter, I said to myself. Yet I knew, the damage of subscribing to everything would haunt me for a while longer. The only other emails I now receive are from survey companies, which, admittedly are a personal high, as I will demonstrate in a later article.

I am lucky. Like everyone with addiction, I can receive help over the internet – and it doesn’t involve me checking my emails. So if you need help: please read I’m taking it one step at a time. I know I can beat my email addiction. I’m proud to say I now check my emails fifteen times a day. And I await the day when the 7-15 emails I get a day will actually be exciting… or at least, I await the day when I won’t care what emails I get in the first place.


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