“I haven’t opened my emails yet,” said a friend one morning. A graduate school professor, he does his best work in the morning when his mind is fresh. Only in the afternoon does he open his numerous emails. He realizes that they can be thieves of one’s best hours in terms of productivity. I see emails in the same way, though I am far less disciplined. In fact, on sitting down at my desk early in the morning, the first thing I do, coffee at hand, is to open what has come my way since the day before. Many are not personal ones, but rather alerts from various human rights groups. If the temptation is great, I open them. Favorites include the environmental groups like Greenpeace, Conservation International and the Sierra Club, as well as other organizations like the Sentencing Project, which deals with criminal justice issues. These are among those topics I deal with at America magazine, and emails have thus put me on the trail of an editorial or a “Current Comment."
But some emails are personal emails from friends. Two or three times a week, I exchange email greetings with a friend in California. Neither of us has the time to write and mail actual pen and paper letters, except in rare circumstances. Other friends are up in years, and arthritis makes handwriting difficult, but some do have computers. So emails keep us in touch in ways that we value. Although the U. S. Post Office sees email as a cause of their ongoing loss of revenue from the sale of their ever-more costly postage stamps, with some self-discipline it can help both with work and with friendships.
George M. Anderson, S.J.