Here is a thoughtful analysis by Sarah Green on the responsiveness trap of e-mails. This is the e-mail equivalent of “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” Sarah concludes that there is no neutrality on this issue:
We have confused responding with reacting. Responding involves thinking, and thinking takes time. Taking time means we can’t possibly answer all the email we get in anything like a sensible time frame — and that we might not really be able to answer all of it, period. And while it can sometimes feel good to have people react to you — dance, monkey, dance! — it is ultimately a false victory. Because what you want isn’t a dancing monkey (unless you’re in the circus business). What you want is an answer.
And so all of us will have to decide: am I going to be “responsive,” rapidly reacting to every email, with my thumbs, choosing to make more work for other people and giving myself the attention span of a goldfish? Or am I going to answer email in my own time, when I can actually provide a thoughtful reply, and either spend my life apologizing or decide it’s okay if people think I’m an arrogant so-and-so?
This is the choice. There is no middle ground. At least, as long as the vacation-email-answering, no-punctuating-using, smartphone-sleeping-with people are in charge.
If that describes you, please: Cease. Desist. Get a hobby. And please stop asking if I got your email.