When you were younger, did you get all excited for the mail? I totally used to look forward to checking the mailbox, because anything that arrived for me was pretty much going to be cool - an actual letter or card of some kind, or maybe a package - fun stuff.
By now, however, my physical mailbox is usually filled with bills, junk flyers, and catalogs (which are occasionally fun, but these days I toss them without looking at anything because if I don't look at the ads, I won't want what they're pushing). It's much less exciting. There are even times of the month where I dread getting the mail because I don't want to get certain bills.
So e-mail has become my, "oh, goody, something cool!" thing. Because yeah, I get a ton of spam and boring e-mail, but a lot of e-mail is stuff I signed on for, or actual communications from cool people. I'd say I get a lot more "cool" mail via e-mail than via snail-mail by this point.
The problem, of course, is that snail-mail comes once a day - I know once I've picked up the mail I don't have to think about it till the next day. E-mail, on the other hand, arrives willy-nilly, whenever, according to no fixed schedule. Which is part of what makes it fun, but which also means that I can get a little obsessive about checking my (three!) e-mail accounts. Do I have any e-mail now? No. What about now? Nope. Any yet? Nada. Now? Oooh, e-mail - oh, it's a coupon off pet-food. Well, okay. Maybe there's something now....
Obviously if I'm actually working - teaching class, cleaning the apartment, cooking dinner, exercising, whatever - something that involves not being in front of the computer screen - I don't stop every two minutes to check e-mail. (My students might rightfully take offense at me checking e-mail during class. Although, hey! If they check e-mail when I'm not engaging enough, can I check e-mail when they're not engaging enough?) But if I'm writing or doing class prep or something else that involves computer time? And especially if it's not
perhaps the world's most exciting task? I'm an e-mail inbox-clicking machine.
All of which is to say, I think I need to get a life.