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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Which is Worse Email or Cannabis?

1. A system for sending and receiving messages electronically over a computer network, as between personal computers.
2. A message or messages sent or received by such a system.
3. An electronic communication medium that can dull you down more than a Philly Blunt.


I remember back in the early 1980’s, only very few people had access to email, or as they called it back then – electronic mail. You were either a government employee or a high-brow academician somewhere. Does anyone remember those ugly old Arapanet or CompuServe email addresses? It was only a matter of time before a good thing went bad. There has been research showing that Email may actually lower your functional I.Q. If you use email at work, think about how many emails you receive throughout the course of a day. The basic theory is that during the course of your work day emails basically attack your uniform and focused approach to your projects. The worst case scenario happens when you try to field each email as it chimes into your mailbox. After several hours, your brain starts tiring and you are at a lower functional level -- a whole 10 I.Q. points lower on the average!!! To drive the point home even further, researchers compared the effects of email with the use of marijuana. Guess what…The research showed that the effects of email posed a greater threat to concentration and I.Q. than cannabis. In some cases, the people who were studied couldn't resist the temptation of trying to juggle the influx of new email messages while trying to concentrate on their existing work, which resulted in, over the course of a day, the equivalent to loss of a night’s sleep.

Another “side-effect” of email overload are the deterioration of manners. This can be seen most commonly, when people divert their attention from a face-to-face conversation or meeting to read and reply to email. Some call it multi-tasking, but it just boils down to being rude.

The irony of email is that it is supposed to increase and improve productivity, but it has evolved into a destructive force on productivity in some cases. The irony of email, is that one would think that email facilitates social interaction by reducing the effort to communicate with others. It actually seems to be cultivating a preference for asynchronous communication over face-to-face communication. If it hasn’t already surfaced, I think that addiction to email will become a recognized psychological affliction along with new cases of ESA (Email Separation Anxiety). I just made ESA up, but I think it has a nice ring to it.

A good article about this can be found here: Emails Pose Threat to I.Q.


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