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Email Addiction Runs Rampant 425

Rollie Hawk writes "Are you addicted to email? According to the Opinion Research Corporation, the odds are pretty good that you are. Their study of 4,012 adults in the twenty largest U.S. cities found that 41% of respondents start the day by checking their email. On the average, respondents admitted to checking their email five times a day. Respondents also mentioned email features they wish were available. Examples included the ability to retract unread messages (45%) and a way to track the forwarding of their own email (43%). Just how addicted are the email-dependent among us? So heavily that one quarter of respondents won't go more than two or three days without it. Of course, by those standards, most Americans must be addicted to work, sex, and TV as well."
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Email Addiction Runs Rampant

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  • it's pretty frightening when you can google up a 12-step recovery program for sex addiction, substitute the word "sex" for "email" and it still kind of works.

    my favorite steps:

    1. Admitted we were powerless over [what ever your affliction] and that our lives were unmanageable

    2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

    8. Made a list of persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

    good god. where to begin?
    • Jesus saves. Moses invests.

      People need assurance that they are doing the correct thing. 12 step programs work the same way a mob mentality does. Sweeping you up into the land of stupidity.

      People need to realize they create their own reality (be it real or phantom/faith based) and your choices are your own.
    • The thing is though, addiction is considered a disease. I will wait until someone from the medical field says that this addiction exists.

      Call me crazy, but I do not trust a marketing company when it comes to identifying possibile addictions.
    • 8. Made a list of persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

      Is it following these steps if you send out an email to your entire address book saying:

      Sorry for all the email. To make amends, I've included a link to Crazy Frog Axel F.
    • The 12 step program is pseudo science at best. Ultimately if the individual either faces enough social pressure (e.g. court sentence) or has the strength of will to go through the 12 step process, they could quit a habit of their own.

      Your example prooves it... insert "sex", "drugs", "e-mail", "eating", whatever you wish; most likely the 'method' is adaptable. Of course if the process is so generic as to be applicable to anything, its most likely a truism and actually has little inherent value.
    • 12-Stepping (a la Alcoholics Anonymous) or, in this case, 8-stepping, are totally Bullshit! [tvtome.com] anyway.

      Hmm, strange to remember that some people actually have to check their email. All my accounts notify me. If it takes the average person 1 minutes to check their email, then you could say I check mine 960 times a day.

      That doesn't make me an addict - that makes me normal :)
  • I think i just got an email.. see ya! :)
  • Sooo.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by leonmergen ( 807379 ) * <lmergen&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @02:27PM (#12696664) Homepage
    ... if reading my email every morning is an addiction, what's the difference between "addiction" and "daily routine" ?
    • Re:Sooo.... (Score:4, Funny)

      by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @02:28PM (#12696680) Journal
      A lot of addicts ask this.

      "It's not an addiction, slugging back 4 fingers of gin as I get out of bed is just part of my daily routine!"

      • That doesn't change anything. I brush my teeth every day. Does that mean I'm addicted to toothpaste?
      • If your routine action has a significant net negative effect on your quality of life or that of the people around you, it is a "problem habit".

        If your brain chemistry has altered itself so you need your routine action to approximate homeostasis, it is an "addition".

        If neither of the above conditions apply, it's just a harmless part of your daily routine.
    • Exactly, how is this any different than checking your voice mail messages or reading the newspaper?

      I do most of my communication with coworkers via email, so of course I check it a couple times a day. I also listen to my voice mails whenever I notice a new one (not always stuck behind a desk).
    • One makes a good article, one is boring and nobody cares. :)

    • Re:Sooo.... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Shky ( 703024 ) <shkyoleary.gmail@com> on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @02:32PM (#12696739) Homepage Journal
      "Daily Routine" is hardly a good buzzword..
    • control is essentially it. You can generally control a routine, where as an addiction is more or less outside of your control (smoking, drugs, even sex addicts cant go for more then a couple of days without engaging in their vice of choice).

      There are other differing attributes and examples, but in a nutshell, thats the gist of it.

      • But an addiction should be something that you enjoy.

        I feel like I have to check email every day, even on vacation or travel to avoid coming back to hundreds of crapmails to wade through.

        If I distribute this checking to 10-15 minutes every day, it seems less painful than 2+ hours when I get back.

        Plus I stay on top of any instant problems.

        It is not usually wasting time, as email is now a real portion of your job. Surfing slashdot / web addiction is probably not in your job description.
        • Re:Sooo.... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by porcupine8 ( 816071 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @02:49PM (#12696967) Journal
          Should be, you would think. And it usually starts out as something you enjoy. But often, once the addiction takes hold it's less "something you enjoy" and more "something you require to function normally." You may or may not still enjoy it, but you do NOT enjoy being without it.
    • And if you check your answering machine when you get home, you're addicted to the Telephone! Ahoy-hoy!
    • an addiction is something you do because you NEED to. a routine is something you do becuase its a habit and it needs to get done.

      If you have 6 email addresses and you check them as soon as you wake up, as soon as you get to work, several times during the day at work, as soon as you get home, after dinner, just before going to bed, and at random times in between, then it might be considered an addiction

    • I too am addicted to email! I do it constantly and am even notified if emails come in! I'm also, clearly, addicted to the following:

      * Using restroom
      * Saving, compiling, and testing incremental changes to code base
      * Checking to see if additional bugs have been assigned to me
      * Walking my dogs
      * Eating
      * Listening to "Morning Edition"
      * Checking weather before walking to my car

      I need government sponsored action and possibly a large lawsuit!
    • Well since this is Slashdot, I obviously didn't RTFA, but if the summary is accurate, this study is moronic.

      I check my email regularly because I get email regularly. I occasionally forget to open Thunderbird in the morning (I leave it open and watch the notifications) and then I miss a bunch of important emails and wonder what's going on.

      I don't doubt that some people are addicted to email. But it sounds to me like the indicators the study used are ridiculous. As you say, checking your email in the mornin
  • I have to admit, I check my email a ton. But all I have to do is glance over at the shell window with mutt running, and I'm off.

    Also, in my world, email brings me great things. Sex, money, and geekery. Often, an email from the right person means free beer!

  • Anyone else wonder why this is in the Hardware section?
    • It's in hardware but has the communication logo.

      Dunno, where would you suggest it go? You check your email on hardware still, don't you? :)

    • Yeah, I did wonder, and scanned down the post looking for what physical traits "e-mail" might have that would either encourage an addiction (clicks like an addicted mouse on a wheel?) or break as a result of an addiction (smoking servers?). Both a total reach, I know. And nothin', nada.

      Take a look at the editor who put this up, though. Whatever the original poster chose on the way in, it's the editor who needs to figure out how things fit together. Taco, Taco, Taco.

    • No, I didn't. Who gives a shit?
  • by uberdave ( 526529 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @02:28PM (#12696682) Homepage
    I may check my email 5 times a day, but I check Slashdot 20 or 30 times a day.
  • Lightweights!
  • Oh c'mon! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <spydermann.slashdot@ g m ail.com> on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @02:30PM (#12696698) Homepage Journal
    That's just plain stupid. Just because e-mail has become a social necessity (like checking your answering machine) doesn't mean you're ADDICTED.

    E-mail is a form of communication, I use it to talk with my e-friends. We live in a global society now.

    (On the other hand, if you check your e-mail because you're feeling lonely, then you're not addicted to e-mail. You just need real-life friends)
    • Re:Oh c'mon! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IPFreely ( 47576 ) <mark@mwiley.org> on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @03:04PM (#12697105) Homepage Journal
      Yup, that's about it.

      E-mail is not the addiction. What people want and need is the social interaction. Different people use different means and technologies to get it, but the basics are the same.

      Like this article is trying to make an issue out of a particular technology that is used. It's no worse than the old ladies that just have to go down to the beauty salon every day. They go for the chit-chat. The salon is just the place where it all happens.

      E-Mail, forums, Blogs, Cell Phones, Text. They are all just communications mediums. Make fun of each others technology, but know that the underlying need of each is to stay in touch and communicate.

  • I don't check my email obsessively...I have my Sidekick do it for me.

    All my email is forwarded to my Sidekick, so I can know about email the instant it arrives.

    Don't be like me.

  • I'm taking an online course, and had to convince the professor to let us email in our assignments, as opposed to sending them in using snail mail.

    A little more widespread addiction to email can't be all bad, I think.
  • Because it gets me away from talking face to face or over the phone to people I can't stand.

    Does answering your telephone make you a phone addict?
  • Right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skye16 ( 685048 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @02:31PM (#12696714)
    I also check my voicemail every day when I get home from work, and at any other time that I think I may have a phone call.

    I also check my physical mail box every day, just to see how much less money I'm going to have after I do bills.

    I look in the fridge for something to eat at least 5-8 times a day.

    I pee at least twice, often times around 3 times a day.

    Until these people start going into withdrawal when they stop checking their email, don't call it addiction. I've gone weeks without checking my email, after having checked it about 8 times + a day for the year or two preceding that. I didn't even give it a second thought.

    The real headline is that "The Opinion Research Corporation is staffed by a pack of retarded monkeys. The CEO expressed optimism that their next release will be more along the lines of Hamlet than a total pile of bullshit. High School students everywhere were known to ask 'What's the difference?'".
    • Yeah,

      I had that email period in life as well. There was a time when work was heavily email centric and many many functions were dependant on it.

      My friends just happened to get used to email being real time for me.

      Then fast foward to a career change. Suddenly, e-mail wasn't a huge deal with work, sure we still use it a great deal, but I get by with 3 or 4 hour check times.

      It really wasn't that much of a transition.

      Though there was the whole... work sponsored email addiction rehab program... but we don'
    • I look in the fridge for something to eat at least 5-8 times a day.
      You're obviously addicted. Try to give up food for a few weeks.
    • Well... Call me pathetic, but after waiting 2 weeks for the net when I moved into my last house, I was exhibiting a little bit of withdrawal. Plus I think the only thing that stops me from checking my e-mail on the hour is the wondrous invention of e-mail notifiers.

      Of course, I could just be a freak.
    • This is way off the subject, but this is the third time today I've either read somebody or heard somebody say something like this: ...check my physical mail box every day, just to see how much less money I'm going to have after I do bills...

      What I want to know is: How can you not know already? Why are people afraid to check the mail, or hate when bills arrive? Don't you all already know how much money you spent, and when payment is due?

      I have a huge ass mailbox because I often go weeks at a time witout c
    • Re:Right. (Score:4, Funny)

      by Excelsior ( 164338 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @07:13PM (#12699801)
      I'm clearly addicted to opening doors, flushing toilets, using the word "the" in a sentence, typing the letter "S", walking forward, breathing, blinking, saying "Hello" to people, turning my car to the right, chewing, sitting, standing, eating, answering the phone when it rings, looking at the clock, reading web sites, tieing my shoes, watching TV, listening to music, kissing my wife, turning on lights, turning off lights, clicking my computer's mouse....
  • Since when has doing something a lot that needs doing a lot to be useful meant you're addicted? If you don't check your email frequently you might as well use snail mail - one of the biggest benefits of email over snail mail is speed.
  • Addicted? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by interstellar_donkey ( 200782 ) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (etaghgihtap)> on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @02:31PM (#12696724) Homepage Journal
    Yeah. To paraphase.

    Slashdot user: "Hi, I'm Pat. And I'm an email addict".

    Group: "Email? Email's not an addiction. I used to suck dick for coke. Now that's an addiction. You ever suck dick for email?"

    Slashdot user: "Well" (blushes) "Now that I think about it... I suppose that yes... yes I have".

  • Addicted? (Score:3, Informative)

    by chjones ( 610558 ) <`chjones' `at' `aleph0.com'> on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @02:32PM (#12696733) Homepage Journal

    These results, as far as I can tell, have little if anything to do with "addiction". Do people check their email often? Yup. Do they do so to the detriment of other activities? Who knows?

    How about this as an interesting survey:

    • Do you check your email when you know you're supposed to be doing other things? (Yeah, most people would answer this one positively.)
    • Have you ever tried to cut back on how often you check your email? (Why?)
    • Do you get annoyed when others suggest you check your email too much?
    • Do you ever feel guilty about checking your email?
    • Do you ever need an eye-opener, checking your email first thing in the morning? (Okay, this one's covered.)
    • And the all important: have you ever willingly had sex with someone so that they would allow you to check your email?

    Unless the answers to several of those questions are "yes", I'd have a little trouble suggesting someone's addicted....

  • An "email this" link on an article about how addicted we are to email. Nice.
  • How many people would be checking their email five times a day if we had something (in our house for example) that notified us (by, oh, say a ringing sound) when we had a new message? Or maybe a blinking light? Sound familiar?

    People only check their email that often because they don't have any other way of knowing whether or not they've got new mail. Tie email notification in with a distinct telephone ring sound, and you'll see the # of times people check their email drop considerably. Crack down on spamme
  • Addiction is a very specific term that has, like much else, been co-opted by people who want it to mean something else. From a psychological or physiological standpoint it means that, if you don't get the substance, you feel withdrawal symptoms, and you need increasing doses of the substance in order to keep the withdrawal symptoms away.

    So, technically, most people are not addicted. They just really like email, and find it useful. However, from the way most people understand addiction, well, I suppose they

  • Email has become such a ubiquitous means of communication, I'm not sure the its frequent use can be termed an "addiction". Would we say that someone is addicted to the phone because they either call or answer it 5 times a day? I'd posit that it's used a lot simply because it's an effective way to communicate.
  • I like Cheerios (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vitaflo ( 20507 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @02:34PM (#12696759) Homepage
    Looks like I'm also addicted to brushing my teeth and eating breakfast, based on that criteria.
  • Since I have customers (and coworkers) all over the globe, sometimes working radically different hours than I do, I've found that it's often better to toss an e-mail to some people than to attempt to contact them by other means.

    We also get a lot of announcements, problem reports, status messages, and other things sent via e-mail at my current workplace.

    Because of this, by e-mail client checks for new mail every five minutes. And depending on the type of message, sometimes that's too long a period of time
  • If you use webmail, checking involves a good bit of effort and attention on your part. But if you use a normal client, you have it running in the background checking on your behalf periodically and notifying you when mail arrives. Does the fact that my computer checks mail several hundred times a day make me an addict, or does it mean that whoever designed this survey thinks that "everyone uses webmail these days"?
  • So heavily that one quarter of respondents won't go more than two or three days without it. Of course, by those standards, most Americans must be addicted to work, sex, and TV as well.
    Or, maybe two out of three if you read Slashdot.
  • Thanks to my Treo, I get my corporate email delivered in near realtime via GoodLink and my personal email delivered every 15 minutes via ChatterEmail (3 IMAP, 2 POP).

    The really scary thing are holiday weekends. The emails slow down and I find myself sending myself test emails just to make sure my mail server didn't go down. Talk about a dependency... my email addiction is worse than my crack addiction or my PSP addiction. :)
  • I also urinate first thing in the morning and get uncomfortable if I go too long without doing so. It's not an addiction.

    I also eat breakfast, play with my dog, and read the newspaper every morning. Addiction is not the same as "routine".

  • I do computer consulting for a living and the one thing I've come to detest is email. The sound of the word even sets my teeth on edge. It's the first thing customers ask about when I get their computers back to them.

    "Did you get all my eeeeemail???" "Is my eeeeemail still there?" "You aren't erasing my eeeeemail, are you?"

    My partner and I are indebted to these people and their addiction, but it has become the bane of our existence. Luckily, we're mostly a Mac OS X shop and it's easy to back up and restor
  • by prisoner-of-enigma ( 535770 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @02:40PM (#12696856) Homepage
    Of course, by those standards, most Americans must be addicted to work, sex, and TV as well.

    What is this "sex" thing you speak of? I can find no reference to it in any of my emails.
  • Of course, by those standards, most Americans must be addicted to work, sex, and TV as well."

    To nitpick for a second, arent the first two well...essential to life? Wouldn't necessarily call that an addiction....

    And whats with the 'Americans' snark? Last time I checked the rest of the world works and has sex too, hell Americans rank lower in industrialized nationals among sexual activity!
  • ...and I have a few thoughts on it... ...wait...gotta check my e-mail. Be right back.

  • This is bad. What is becoming of the American citizenry? It is already sad to see the Vehicular addicts each morning, and now this? Yes, Vehicular Addicts. Those people who must satiate their addiction to vehicles by driving one each day. The worst of them actually 'shoot up' by driving first thing each morning, sometimes even before coffee (double addiction jeapordy there my friends!)! It is sad to see people being enslaved by their cars, and now even by email. What a sad sad people we have become.
  • In Korea, only old people check their email five times a day.
  • by joeslugg ( 8092 )
    Saying people are "addicted" to email because they check it 3-5 times a day is like saying people are "addicted" to the phone because they choose to answer it every time it rings. Or for that matter, checking your snail-mail box once a day (you ADDICT!). Oh, I check my wristwatch a few times a day to see what time it is - does this make me a TIME addict?
  • I work for an ISP my whole day is spent reading email. That's how I interact with tech support / sales / the rest of the company.

    They know better then to call the engineers, we hate that. :-P
  • If you're sitting at a workstation all day and your mail server uses IMAP with IDLE support, I guess that means you're constantly checking your email...
  • I've had e-mail accounts since the late 80s. Back then, you rarely received anything, but when you did, it was usually worth reading.

    These days, I've gotten to the point where I have little use for e-mail.

    99% of the non-spam (and of course, 100% of the spam) is completely useless.

    The net result is that if you send me an e-mail these days, you have to call me up to tell me you sent it so that I'll check the e-mail box.
  • While at work, outlook never closes and I have notifications on my screen every time a new email comes in which is pretty often. It's a part of my job. When I leave my desk my blackberry comes with me so I can see any email that I'm missing while I'm not there... but am I addicted? I'd say no. I just do my job. When 5:00 rolls around I check my home email sometime after dinner and don't really touch the computer after that. I think those of us that are forced to do it as part of our daily routine in
  • the ability to retract unread messages (45%) and a way to track the forwarding of their own email (43%)

    If that's really the case then it sounds like Microsoft will have its work cut out for them in selling DRM to these people, since that's the only reliable way a control-freak can track & control "his" email once it's on someone elses machine.

    Web-bug tracking images and return receipts aren't evil enough?

  • by 3770 ( 560838 ) on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @02:52PM (#12696988) Homepage
    I had a hotmail account and there was no way to delete it.

    The only way for the account to be removed was if it was inactive for three months.

    I tried many times to just stop logging in and checking my mail, but i always caved in and looked "just in case someone had sent something important".

    I was on track to never being able to deactivate that account.

    The maximum number of characters in the password was 20 characters.

    What I ended up doing was typing in 20 random characters, without looking, in notepad, then changed my password to that using copy/paste so I effectively locked myself out of the account. I needed the copy/paste so I could type in the new password twice.

    That was what finally worked for me.
  • When my email arrives, I automatically receive an audible notification on my cellphone and can check the message right from the phone. So it's essentially beeing fed to me 'intravenously' so to speak. Does that make an addict of me?

    http://unk1911.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
  • Even WORSE! (Score:3, Funny)

    by nugneant ( 553683 ) <c45kyew02.sneakemail@com> on Wednesday June 01, 2005 @02:53PM (#12697004) Homepage Journal
    Most Americans cannot go one day without checking their postal mail!!

    In fact, in a recent study conducted by Nugneant Industries, over 100% of Americans witnessed the sight of a motorcar! When asked if they could possibly live life for three days without looking at a motorcar, they were most likely to answer "no", or offer a sarcastic wisecrack in its stead! America is addicted to the sight of wheeled machinery!

    Most Americans ANSWER THEIR TELEPHONE WHEN IT RINGS!!! I don't believe I need to expungate on the addictive dangers therein!

    I think the conclusion is quite obvious - we're a people addicted to communication and transport! Hopefully a nice, well meaning New Age Liberal surgeon general will issue a proclomation about these events in the future! If only that open minded and charismatic Ronald Reagan was still in office - I'm sure he could convince those bad guys in blue to stop his part in the daily addiction of postal mail.

    Now, excuse me while I go light up a cigarette...
  • WTF are you supposed to do?
    Boss: "Did you get that email about the Johnson account?"
    You: "No."
    Boss: "Is there a problem with email today? I sent it this morning!"
    You: "I dunno. I'm not checking email today. I feel I'm becoming addicted to email. So, I'm weaning myself off this dependence slowly."
    Boss: "Why don't you run down to HR and they can help you wean yourself completely. As it turns out, we have a program that helps with this sort of thing. It's sort of a tough-love approach."
  • Slashdot addiction?

    (hits reload for the nth time today)

  • Hey, I'd like to make sure I get my fill of the ol' lady every 2 or 3 days, but it doesn't always work out that way.
  • So heavily that one quarter of respondents won't go more than two or three days without it. Of course, by those standards, most Americans must be addicted to work, sex, and TV as well.

    Does that make my ex-girlfriend unamerican?
  • Eating
    Drinking Liquids
    P utting Pants on
    Tieing my Shoes
    Wiping my Ass
  • We're geeks. How can we be addicted to something we never get.

    Obsessed? Yes. Addicted? No.
  • How Long From Wake-Up to Email [slashdot.org]
    I Have X Email Addresses [slashdot.org]

    1-2 hours (time from bed to office)
    5-8 email accounts (between school/work/personal/temporary)

    I know that I don't have an email addiction. Now a generalized internet addiction, that's a slightly different story.
  • ...the ability to retract unread messages (45%) and a way to track the forwarding of their own email (43%)

    Novell Groupwise can do at least the first one. I don't know about the second one. I used to work in a corporate environment that used GroupWise for email, calendaring, and document sharing. You could monitor to see who had opened and read messages you sent out. Handy feature, that.

    Here's a related anecdote: My brother's wife worked as a secretary downstairs in the office building, and we used t

  • CNET News.com [com.com] also reported this last Thursday.
  • What differentiates an addiction from an adaptation? When can an adaptation be said to have become an addiction? Playing with these ideas is a fun portal to understanding our makeup, but, at least for me, the answers aren't obvious. We function to a large degree by systems of negative feedback, with a few benign positive feedback loops, for example a sexual orgasim is the result of positive feedback, which for many can be said to be an addiction, there's evidence that less sexually active people live longer

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead