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Battling the Buzz in an Email Obsessed World

November 1st, 2014 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, is there a cyber spray for that incessant buzzing in my virtual ear?

I am old enough to remember the days before desktop computers and therefore the days when we survived without email as a form of communication. Admittedly, it is difficult now to recall that time. But there are days when I desperately wish I could turn back the clock. The constant barrage of emails in the work environment causes me a considerable amount of stress.

A few facts about this habit-forming jewel of technology:

Extrapolations by a research group estimate that 294 billion e-mails are sent every day. This translates to 90 trillion emails per year and 2.8 million emails every second.

Apparently, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 90% of these messages are spam and viruses. That is a scary thought and a blog post for another day. Even filtering out these offenders, there are still 1.9 billion genuine email messages zipping through cyberspace each day.

Admittedly, there are upsides to email technology. It allows us to communicate in real time with people on the other side of the globe. It has made our world a smaller, more accessible and more intimate place. Unfortunately we as a species have become addicted to this form of communication. A few facts I turned up from a simple Google search:

Researchers have determined that, on average, we check our e-mail every five minutes. One study found that we spend 23% of our working day dealing with e-mail. This is a scary thought for corporate executives with their eye on the bottom line.

AN AOL survey found that 47% of respondents claim to be hooked on email, 25% cannot go without email for more than three days, 60% check email on vacation and… wait for it… 59% of people check email from the bathroom. (Insert your own joke here.)

Generation X and Generation Y grew up with this form of communication. It is a part of their cultural DNA. Their brains are programmed from an early age to adapt to the constant interruption involved and not be bothered by it.

As a Baby Boomer, I am part of the generation that is caught in the email double-blind. Checking my email messages every five minutes is distracting and stressful. I wish I could wean myself away from the practice. But the prospect of an overflowing e-mail list after a few hours is even more disconcerting and compels me to do battle with my inbox on an ongoing basis.

Email messages are metaphorical mosquitos buzzing in my ear. No matter how often I swat at them (AKA read and delete), they just will not go away. And I cannot resist the itch to keep swatting.

I have no doubt that one or more of the big pharmaceutical companies are in the R&D stage of a medication to curb our addiction to email. The supreme irony is, when the breakthrough is made, we will all probably get the news… in our inbox.

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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