Giving Up Push Email

In Personal, Technology by Pete

When I made the move to smart phones god-knows how many years ago, it was amazing to me that emails would come straight to my phone. It was basically magic; I was fascinated and infatuated. I was living in the future. For years, I had no idea how anyone could live without having access to their email any moment they wanted it.

Moreover, I couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to be notified the second they had a new message.

Not terribly long ago I met someone who, more than not needing to know every time she received an email, actively did not want that. I’m not sure there’s a logical or practical reason1,  it’s just a personal preference. It took me months to really wrap my head around it, which probably says something about how attached I am to technology.

Then, a few weeks ago, I noticed two things. First, I noticed that unless I was actively ignoring my phone (like at dinner or out with friends), getting a new email meant that I immediately wanted to see what it was, regardless of what else was going on. Second, I noticed that this was almost always a disappointment. Rarely are my emails even vaguely interesting. Something on the order of two or three dozen times a day I would hear the new mail beep, I would get excited over the possibilities contained in a new and unknown message, and then I’d be disappointed by the outcome. It would also serve as a distraction.

I decided to tell my phone that when I wanted to know if I had new messages, I’d ask for them. At first, this seemed almost prehistoric. Now, however, I find that I really don’t miss it. The email is all there waiting when I decide to check it. I don’t have trains of thought interrupted or random distractions.

If you’re a push-email addict (except, maybe, for work email), you should try it for a week or two. I think you’ll find you hate it far less than you think you do.

  1. Which is not to say that the desire is illogical or impractical, only that I don’t think those are the motivations