My “Sent Items” folder in Outlook contains 29 emails labeled “Yesterday,” which means that I sent almost 30 pieces of communication through email in a single day. Some of it was from the computer in my office, and some of it was from my phone. A few were from my computer at home. Some were several sentences in length, while others a few words.
30 is not a lot of emails for one day, but if the year was 1983 and those emails were written letters or typed memos or even scribbled post-its, 30 would seem exhausting. You’d wonder what else you even did in a day.
But it’s so easy, so fluid. The mechanics of typographic communication are so thoroughly integrated into our every minute that we hardly think about them, and with that integration has become a massive relaxation of the standards and conventions guiding that communication. Who addresses emails to “Dear So-And-So?” A quick scan of the first lines of those emails I sent yesterday reveals most of them have no address at all.
Still, all day long we are stopping what we are doing to think intentionally about something we want to convey to someone, formulating it with some level of care, and then sending it. It’s work we don’t think of as work, at least not consciously. But I’m pretty sure our brains and bodies are treating it as such.