Originally printed in The Daily Targum, December 9, 1993

Confessions of an E-mail Crackhead

My girlfriend is an e-mail crackhead. One hit and she was hooked. I made the mistake of introducing her to e-mail last week. We set up an account for her, and I haven't seen her since. Every once in a while, I call for a pizza to be delivered to the basement of the Rutgers Student Center, so that she can eat, because otherwise, she would starve while saying, 'Wait! Just ten more minutes. I have to call my friend in Dublin...' Powerful stuff, that e-mail.

The 'ten minute' thing is her clever little trap for me. We pass the student center, and she says she needs to check her e-mail. 'Just ten minutes,' she promises. Me, being the sucker I am, say 'Okay, but just ten minutes.' Ha ha ha ha. What a moron I am sometimes.

For those of you who are stuck in the 1980s, e-mail is the electronic world's revenge for having Roseanne pushed through part of its bretheren. Electronic mail enables the average individual to contact friends throughout the world, post items of interest on mailing lists, research in libraries across the country, and fail his classes. I can see the advantages of sending e-mail to people in other countries, or even at other schools. But why do people spend hours sending mail, and sometimes even 'talking,' to people at Rutgers? Why don't you just pick up the damn phone?

Of course, the answer to this is simple: because if you called me, I wouldn't be near my phone--I'd be near my computer, sending e-mail. I guess we're all just geeks at heart, playing with our new toys. I suppose if we're going to spend the hundred bucks or so every year in computer fees, we might as well use the computers. (Of course, I wonder who's paying the phone bill for all of my electronic calls to Japan. Is Rutgers on some flat fee program, like we pay a thousand bucks a year, and get all the free unlimited calling we want? Can I sign up for my phone bill? I think it might be worth it.)

Well, that was a lengthy digression. But that's okay. It's close to finals. Any digression is welcome. Here's another digression: my little cousin Mikey doesn't want to brush his teeth.

This digression, however, is directly relevant to this column. Kind of. You see, Mikey sent me that little concern of his through e-mail. I think it's amusing that a five year old knows how to do this stuff, and I see people at the Student Center all the time who have no clue how to turn the computers on. Grown-up comedians make fun of their generation all the time, saying they can't program their VCR, and our generation laughs at them--the simplicity of it all.

Well, I think our generation has met its match. Maybe it's just because my girlfriend is younger than me, but she spends hours communicating with her friends, and I spend hours trying to figure out how to read the one piece of mail I received. Then again, maybe the six months don't make that big a difference.

Actually, I have received some interesting mail regarding this column. One person sent me a letter chock full of expletives. I had to look some of them up. (I couldn't find a few, so I called Mikey. He knew them, and explained them to me.) A few people have told me that they enjoy my column, and my usual response is that they have too much free time. One person sent me a picture of Beavis and Butthead. Enough said about him.

At any rate, e-mail doesn't just stop within Rutgers. There's a bulletin board for the American Debate Association, filled with all sorts of intellectual discussion and debate about which people hooked up at last week's tournament. There's actually a lot of sex stuff on the Internet. A 'friend' from work sent me over two hundred articles about having sex with large animals. Some people have way too much free time.

In the end, e-mail will prove to be a tool like any other--people use it when they need it. Until then, while we all discover the miracle of e-mail, my girlfriend won't talk to me, I can't get on a computer at the Student Center, and I'm dying of the nervous thought that I have an important piece of mail waiting for me. Maybe we should have 10-minute e-mail computers, like the 10-minute printing computers. Why is someone else's paper any more important than my e-mail?

Sorry to cut this article short, but I have to check to see if my friend from Tokyo has responded yet. I'll only be ten minutes.

Jason Gottlieb is a Rutgers College senior who can be located in the Rutgers College game room, laughing at the crowds around Mortal Kombat II.

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