E-mail Gathers Friends “into the immediacy of our lives”

Amid all that is wasteful, distracting, irrelevant and downright evil about e-mail, there is also this. We carry dozens of people, sometimes hundreds, around with us in our heads. They pass in and out of our thoughts as quickly as thought itself. E-mail is a way to gather these people — so many of them scattered across the globe — into the immediacy of our lives in a way that makes even a phone call feel highly formalized. It is the nearness of e-mail, the conversations it creates, that is addicting as much as the minute-by-minute stimuli. I try to remember that when I am getting twitchy, when I start wondering whether the mail server is down again. I tell myself that I’m just listening for a chorus of voices, a chorus of friends.

For the full commentary, see:
VERLYN KLINKENBORG. “EDITORIAL OBSERVER; ‘ No Messages on This Server,’ and Other Lessons of Our Time.” The New York Times, Section 4 (Sunday, January 29, 2006): 15.

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