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Authors at the Water Cooler: The Masochist's Inbox

we fetishize the pain of never reaching inbox zero because it proves to ourselves that we still matter

The problem, of course, is that email didn’t live up to its billing as a productivity silver bullet. The quick phone call, it turns out, cannot always be replaced with a single quick message, but instead often requires dozens of ambiguous digital notes passed back and forth to replicate the interactive nature of conversation.

-- A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload (affiliate link)

A single email exchange never ends, it is merely paused.

Once most people believe that one ought to be able to answer forty emails in the space of an hour, your continued employment may become dependent on being able to do so, regardless of your feelings on the matter.

-- Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals (affiliate link)

We expect each other and ourselves to be prompt at maintaining n conversation threads, ongoing, ongoing, ongoing.

In a situation where every waking moment has become the time in which we make our living, and when we submit even our leisure for numerical evaluation via likes on Facebook and Instagram, constantly checking on its performance like one checks a stock, monitoring the ongoing development of our personal brand, time becomes an economic resource that we can no longer justify spending on “nothing.” It provides no return on investment; it is simply too expensive. This is a cruel confluence of time and space: just as we lose noncommercial spaces, we also see all of our own time and our actions as potentially commercial.

-- How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (affiliate link)

Without strict delineations, boundaries for finite response windows (to stimuli), we will take the low road, and absorb it's costs.

We fetishize the pain of never reaching inbox zero because it proves to ourselves that we still matter. If others say that they need us, we are willing to suffer to walk that ideal.