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Hi, I’m Betsy and I’m an email-a-holic

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February 1, 2008

I’ve finally given up my BlackBerry, or rather my “CrackBerry.”

Actually, in my case I owned a Treo, but the point is the same: I had become addicted to e-mail anywhere and anytime. I had to let go.

It’s been many weeks now and I’m doing, well, okay. I wasn’t sure that would be the case, and because I was afraid of backsliding, I decided not to be open about the issue until I had some traction under me.

I first became aware of my problem when I saw a column in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “BlackBerry Orphans.” I’ve kept it all this time. It was all about the children of BlackBerry addicts, who were fed up with their parents sending and receiving e-mails during their baseball games.

“Like a bunch of teenagers, some parents are routinely lying to their kids, sneaking around the house to covertly check their e-mails and disobeying house rules established to minimize compulsive typing” wrote Katherine Rosman in the Journal.

Emma Colonna really hit home for me. Emma, age 14, “wishes her parents would behave, at least when they’re out in public.” She “has caught her parents typing e-mails on their Treos during her eighth-grade awards ceremony, at dinner and in darkened movie theaters.”

Emma fears her parents were e-mailing during her recent dance recital.

As I first read and then re-read the piece, over a year ago now, I remember thinking I’m not one of (begin ital) those (end ital) parents. Am I? The ones who sneak away from the family dinner to send an e-mail, whose kids talk about their parents’ “CrackBerry” use to the family therapist.

Oh really? I finally had to admit I’d found myself checking e-mails, not in the family bathroom perhaps, but in more than one restaurant ladies room. Ouch.

I tried to put Emma and the Journal piece out of my mind, but as my own kids complained about my Treo use on family vacations, at the ponytail softball games, and in the grocery store, I began to at least wrestle with the idea of wrestling with my Treo. Could I really let go of that lovely little “ping” when a new e-mail came in? (Who knows what new possibility or piece of information it might contain?)

Could I — would I — cope? I had to find out.

There are certain places I draw the line, of course. I never want to know, for instance, what life would be like without fresh ground coffee with half-and-half in the morning. I don’t want that existence. But getting rid of the unnecessary (and expensive) pacifier of e-mail any time, anywhere? It was time to find out.

Finally, just a few short months ago, I let go.

I had made a commitment. I was on the track “back” to wholeness.

At first, I felt totally disconnected. I had a cell phone, of course, but it’s a rather ordinary little thing. It can just take. . . calls. “Texting” is of no real substitute for e-mails and the Internet. Sometimes, those hours away from home s. . .t . . . r . . e . . .t . . . c. . . h. . . .e . . . d on forever. But I survived them.

What’s it like now? Well, it’s better. I don’t feel quite so “apart” from the world without my Treo. Yes, I’ve missed some important e-mails. Funny — the world has gone on just the same.

Sure, I feel a ping of envy when I get an e-mail with the note at the bottom “sent from my BlackBerry.”

But I’ve accepted that that part of my life is over.

Naturally, my kids are delighted my Treo is gone, and that’s what matters most. They are working on getting rid of the laptop next.

Memo to kids: Not a chance.

(Betsy Hart hosts the “It Takes a Parent” radio show on WYLL-AM 1160 in Chicago. Reach her through betsysblog.com.)

One Response to Hi, I’m Betsy and I’m an email-a-holic

  1. pollchecker

    February 1, 2008 at 9:08 am

    I totally can relate. I just have one problem. I literally get well over 500 pieces of SPAM a day. So when I go away for a few days, my email is a real mess.

    I don’t understand why people can’t use the BCC or Blind Carbon Copy Line when they forward email. I don’t understand why people can’t delete all the emails in the body of the text. No, they just hit the forward button and load up the TO line with jillions of addresses – a spammer’s paradise.

    Many people don’t apparently understand that spammers start this stuff especially chain letters just for this purpose. If I was a spammer I wouldn’t have to do anything but sit back and wait on people to send me some emails and a slew of email addresses.

    No matter how many times I ask my friends and family, they just don’t get it. Or…they use the CC line instead of the BCC line. Or they get upset and threaten not to send me any more emails. Like with a 1000 emaisl I’m going to miss that inspiration crap they send.

    Since email is my liviehood I can’t quit it. But I sure wish people would be smarter and listen up to me when I tell them to use the BCC line for emails. WE CAN LITERALLY STOP SPAM if we use the BCC line and cut out all those emails in the body of the text. PLEASE!!!!