Yes, it’s today. I had no idea. Seriously.
I saw a telegraph pole on the street last week that interested me and took photo of it a few days ago, something I could use on the blog over the coming weeks. Then, in one of those moments of the most amazing serendipity, when I was googling up telegraph poles this morning I came up with this post from the Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society.
On this special day they urge us to
get outside and….
hug a telegraph pole
take a photgraph of one
write a poem about one
I am old enough to remember a time when email did not exist. I am therefore old enough to appreciate the wondrous way in which it has changed human communication. It does not seem so long ago, temping for large companies, I used to have to type out memoranda, or memos, to other staff members, print them out and pop into into the internal mail. Then one would twiddle one’s fingers for a day or so, waiting for a response via memorandum. If I think back even further I can remember jobs where the printer was known as the typewriter and there were no computers at all. In my lifetime. Amazing.
Email was mindboggling back then. The speed of it transformed working life – I used it at work long before it was available at home. Now, of course, we all go much too fast for our own good and the ease of email has meant that we are bombarded with all kinds of communication, all of the time. Too much email, a bulging inbox? Modern life. Don’t moan, it’s the way it is. But I am going to moan and there are two reasons why.
#1 The Fear
This is when you spend time away from your inbox, say a week’s annual leave. Of course, you have set up the out of office message because you are a consumate professional, but after a day or so of freedom, something starts to niggle at the back of your brain. It’s The Fear. The Fear of what’s in your inbox. Those out of office messages are fine and dandy, but they only tell the emailer at the other end that you aren’t there after they’ve already emailed you. It’s all very well them being informed that you’ll be back in the office and onto their email like a hot potato on date x or y, but if a couple of hundred of people send you emails during your week off then it’s a lot of hot potatoes to handle in one go when you get back. Just the thought of it gives me indigestion. The other side of The Fear is that some terrible news will come whilst I am away. Like I am fired, or the building has burned down, or there is an outbreak of Legionnaires disease. Not that I’m a control freak… Anyway, I have a way round this Fear. I manage the anxiety that returning to the bulging inbox provokes by checking my email whilst I’m away. I don’t often reply, because that would make a fool out of the out of office messenger, but I am still reading the mail. So much for switching off from work.
#2 The Spam
As I only take annual leave a couple of times of year The Fear doesn’t happen too often, but The Spam… every single freaking day! Of course I have a spam filter but so much of it gets through. And anyway you have to check your Spam folder because emails you want to read end up there as well. The email inbox used to contain all kinds of interesting things to read, now its like trying to find something you want in a landfill site. It’s got worse recently. Do I want to be a plumber, a gas fitter an electrician or a green energy engineer (whatever that is)? No. Do I want to sign up to diets? No. Did I ever take out PPI? No. Do I want to claim for an accident? No. This is a new one – do I want to be a Video Games Tester? No.
And so it goes on. Do I want to write a review for something I bought? No. Do I want to buy a similar thing to what I just bought? Errrr, let me think… no. Do I want to peruse today’s thousands of ‘hot deals’? Certainly not. Which brings me to the Viagra, the Viagra alternatives and the penis extensions – no, no and no!
Do I want to repair my credit with a 1000% credit card, or take out a Payday loan? No. And do I want to have laser eye surgery. You know the answer don’t you?
Oh, I nearly forgot. Do I want to install solar panels and get £17 grand for my troubles. Arrrghhhhhh.
It’s official, I have email fatigue. It was great whilst it lasted but now I hate instant communication. From now on, if you want to ask me something, send me a memo.
That sentence is attributed to Graham Alexander Bell on March 10, 1876 as he made the first two-way transmission of clear speech through a device that was to become what we know as the telephone (far sound). How exciting far sound must have been back in the day.
A hundred years later in the 1970s when I was growing up it was still of interest if the ‘phone rang and engendered sufficient curiosity in our household that it would be picked up and answered 100% of the time (if we were in). After all it could be Important.
How then, has it come to pass some 35 odd years later that I have taken out the batteries of the handsets to the landline? Well it started like this. When the phone rang we would all stare at like a hand grenade had been thrown in the room. Who could it be? Back in the day it would only be someone with far off sounds, or someone you would like to talk to (mainly). Now it could be, well, anyone. And actually the percentage call would be that it wouldn’t be important, and it wouldn’t be anyone you wanted to talk to and it would probably be someone trying to sell you something that you didn’t want. And still don’t if you are thinking of calling me anytime soon.
The landline and its number is like the double agent in the house. You think it is your employ, but if you get onto enough cold-calling direct sales and marketing lists it will start working against you. You can be relaxing away and the phone rings. You answer, being as it might be your mother. It’s not. It’s someone trying to get you to answer pointless questions for a random survey, sell you life insurance, tell you your library books are overdue (recorded message), the man in Northern Ireland who wants a pint of blood off me, a double-glazing firm, a pebble-dashing firm, an energy supplier, a cancer charity wanting a direct debit and so on and on and on until you are scared to answer the two-way far sounds device. Send me an email I can ignore please.
So why bother with a landline? Because my grandmother, Helen, called from her landline; because she knows this number. Sometimes I sit on the stairs and call her number too, the last digits of which she has had since I was born and is one of the few phone numbers I know off by heart. But now my grandmother won’t call because she died in the summer. Her phone number no longer exists and, for now, I have taken the batteries out of my phone handsets because it’s easier that way.