Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Wonders of Email

Don’t be trite in criticizing it!
by Charlie Leck

One of those dreadful summer colds has caught me in its grip. It’s really awful and has had me flat on my back for a couple of days. I’ve slept for hours and hours on end and then lay awake for a few hours in the middle of the night. So I tuned into the big radio station in town and listened for a while to its overnight guy. He’s not a giant intellectually, but he’s occasionally entertaining. He formulates good trivia questions and other questions that he calls imponderables. He then asks us to ponder the imponderable.

Last night he called email “a pox on society.” He went rather off on the new means of communication, indicating, I’d say, that we’d be better off without it.

I pondered this thesis of his and then totally rejected it, especially after receiving two emails this morning from someone I dearly love in Paris (as in France). Knowing she’s thinking about me made my day.

“Grab a phone,” the overnight radio personality suggested.

Well, it’s sometimes tough to grab a phone. Frankly, I’d be grabbing for a telephone all the time. We have children (6 of them), and other close relatives, too, who are scattered around the globe. What a delight it is to receive email from them. Often they include photographs of grandchildren and I am amazed to see how they’re growing. I don’t yet have the kind of telephone that allows me to get such photographs through it. It’s also difficult to place a call to Paris at the appropriate time to talk to our loved one. A good time for her is an awkward time for us and, conversely (vice-versa), the same is true for her. Ever try a phone call to Manila at just the right moment? And, one doesn’t have to go that far away. I have a daughter in Manhattan, but try to get her on the phone! Then, what if I want to send her copy of a new book review I just read in the New York Times? It’s easy to email it! It’s difficult to call her up, at just the right time, to read it to her.

Last week our oldest child celebrated her 40th birthday. We made it a very big occasion. I wanted to make sure she received wishes from cousins, nephews and nieces, siblings and many close friends. Ah, the wonder of email! All at one time, I just sent off a reminder to about 30 of these family members. Think my daughter didn’t enjoy all the phone calls, cards and, yes, emails she received, wishing her a great birthday?

I have a sister, in Texas, who is quite ill with cancer. Ah, the wonder of email! She can send to me daily little updates on how she’s doing. Do you think there’s no love in such a message? I’ll send you a few and you can personally feel the beating heart of love as you read what we say to each other. Sometimes, people can be more courageous in expressing their feelings through an email than they can on the telephone.

Now think about it! I just can’t call up all my friends and acquaintances to tell them I’m heading off to Montana on a little vacation and ask them for advice about things to do where I’m going. Last week, I sent such an email out to a dozen different friends and I got back some delightful tips about Paradise Valley. A few people sent me links to web sites I should take a look at.

I found this wonderful web site that I knew four of my six kids would just absolutely love. Do I place a telephone call to Portland (Oregon), Chicago, Manhattan and London? When I get each of them on the phone I’ll need to read to them this long and complicated web site address (called a URL) and hope they get it written down correctly. Or, I can simply copy the URL to an email and send it off to them and they only have to click on it with their mouse pointer and off they go.
Listen, radio-hack, when I get an email from one of my daughters with a new, fresh, wonderful photograph of one of my grandkids, I thank my lucky stars that I lived long enough to experience the wonder of email.

Email doesn’t drive us apart! It brings us very close together.

Sometimes you get it right, Al. This time, you got it all wrong! I hope you don’t mind that I sent this to you via email.

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