Monday, January 18, 2010

You need to decide what's worthy of your INBOX

It hit me, as I was depressing the ENTER button that would effectively release the trap door on my SPAM folder, that I hadn't even reviewed its contents this go around before trashing it. Gone were the 13 messages clogging it as I moved dutifully through my morning rituals.

It seems all our lives have now been relegated into two folders: Good Email and Bad Email. It's more than a PC problem, it's a PEOPLE problem.

I know I've done this: When a friend asks if you received the invite to the tree planting ceremony you never intended to patronize, you immediately offer the excuse, "It must have gone into my SPAM folder." Likewise, many important messages languish there, having been assigned to its abysmal location because of a tricky title, spelling error or just because your Email client simply decided to send it there. It's turning into our conscious on a disk!

What strikes me is that we allow this categorization to be a key component of our time management arsenal. As new ways to communicate enter our daily march from sunrise to sunset, we also find more ways to eliminate what passes through to us. And happily so. This electronic communications filter with a brain that is only explained by Physicists and Mystics, helps us to avoid the mundane and concentrate on the seemingly valid messages that harmoniously reside in our InBox. The trouble is, I still get advertisements for digestive health pills and truncated promises about wrinkle reduction right next to news from my business partner.

Again, we are faced with a metaphor about choices. In our innate human rhythm, we are willing to relegate our judgement of communication to a sentinel who appears to subliminally care about our priorities. Because this sorter resides in OUR computer, we're more than happy to overlook messages marked useless by this shaman of electronic babble. Have we looked into why we're happy with a Good-Mail, Bad-Mail color guard? And could it be, that in our own minds, we have innocently developed a good thought, bad thought lens that is just as arbitrary?

The contemporary truth in the phrase, "thoughts become things" is celebrated with a crescendo of hope with every book and workshop created. And with good reason. We need to take back our own decision making process. But the flippant effect of SPAM vs. INBOX, I fear, gives a false sense of thinking we're eliminating the real bad from the real good, instead of the comfortable from the uncomfortable, or the popular from the anonymous.

SPAM is kinda like that. There's enough 'uncomfortable content' in that folder, that we skim the titles and assume, with little or no cognitive engineering, that most of it is bad. And yet if something foolish, like an Email from a Facebook friend comes in the In-Box, asking us to compare ourselves to which shellfish we most resemble, we're all in. It's easier, isn't it. We've been given permission from the great Windows guru that it's okay.

Try this if we've got you thinking now about your good/bad Email decisions. For just two hours, (because we know you have to update your Facebook invites) try writing down the titles of all the Emails you open in that time. Then make a list of all the Emails you trash. See if you can't find a gem hiding in the BAD folder and a stinker residing in the GOOD one. Perhaps it will push you to make sure your own choices each day are not guided by habit, fear, peer pressure, or sleep deprivation but a value system with intention.

Then, resolve and say aloud, "This message is part of my responsibility as a choice. For answering it will push my life's desires and the good of others forward." Your answers may surprise you and help guide you in choosing what you will do with each day, each little folder, each little muscle in your fingers that runs your world with the words, OPEN, COMPOSE, SEND.

No comments:

Post a Comment