Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Emails On A Postcard, Please

This is a serious post about an issue that we've all faced at some point or another in our lives. If you can't be honest with others about it then at least, please, try to be honest with yourselves.

I checked my hotmail account the other day to find, shall we say, an unwanted email. It wasn't spam from that nice sounding Nigerian prince with the appalling spelling (I do hope he spends some of that untaxed oil money on a decent English tutor), it was just one of those emails you get from someone you know that you really wish you hadn't opened, because it requires you to Do Stuff, and we all know by now how I like to avoid Doing Stuff in favour of, say, sitting down with a nice cup of tea and staring idly into space while contemplating important issues such as how geeky would it actually be to go as a Final Fantasy character for Halloween this year (or am I wasting a hilarious but potentially humiliating opporchancity to go as the Bieber?) or if Other Half would really be mad if she came home to find that I'd shaved Roland's body fur to make him look like a little grey lion, etc.

So, when such an email (you can't always identify them on sight, but the subject heading usually gives you a clue) comes hurtling into your inbox from the endless orbit of internetty space, you sigh. You stare at it. You move your mouse pointer over, and then... you pause. Wouldn't it be wonderful if it all somehow just went away? The computer seems to lean closer. It could, you know, it says in a conspiratorial whisper. It only takes a second to click 'delete'. No one would ever have to know. The next few moments are spent in nail-biting agony as you weigh the instant gratification of removing such an annoying and demanding  request from your life, against the guilt you'll feel when you claim later that you never received it. If you decide to delete it, go on to Part 2 below (I read a lot of these kind of Make Your Own Adventure books as a child, most quite longwinded, involving dice and small contraptions, and I've never really got over how fun the whole concept is). If you didn't decide to delete it, progress to Part 1. If you still haven't decided because you are worried about the moral and social implications of choosing a side - stop. Life is full of choices, as my Street Fighter hoodie tells me. Now are you going to play or not, dammit? Good.

Part 1 - You're clearly a better person than me. That's all. I bet you don't spill when you eat. I bet you've never even chewed a mouthful of food, grinning, and then asked your partner/parent/friend if they like "seefood". I bet you keep most if not all of your social engagements. I'm sure I could learn plenty from you, because the world both loves and needs people who actually respond to emails.

Part 2 - You are clearly me, cloned. Well done. You have achieved the first stage of Otterdom, which involves a lot of mischievous behaviour with reckless disregard for the consequences. Of course, you are brave and noble and loyal and if anything really untoward happens, you'll turn up eventually, after you're done fannying about with whatever important task you were occupied with. The world also needs people like us. We keep it interesting, even if we do make it kind of anxious sometimes with all our giggling.

So it was with a delighted grin that I deleted the email. I always hear the same noise in my head when I do this (and it is best accompanied by a kind of shifty eye-motion normally reserved for spy films) which can really only be described as hoverhoverhoverhoverCLICKY. It's a truly satisfying sound.

Note: this technique should only be used when you are willing to take the consequences of your actions. Do not click delete without thinking it through, however briefly (the time it takes you to mentally say "ummm....yeah!" should be enough). Above all else, don't try this at work, in a swimming pool, while passing GO, while joining a choir, with a mouse, or in a house. NEVER with a mouse, people. That's the golden rule.

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