Evolution of an Email Addict

After quitting college and beginning the hunt for an entry-level programming position, I’ve become addicted to email. This is my story.

In the before times…

There once was a time, not so very long ago, where I received two types of email. Type A: emails to confirm that I did, in fact, sign-up for some account with a valid email address, and type B: spam. My email account was useless.

When I began attending the sanctified institution that has been dubbed (with some sarcasm, I suspect) higher-learning, or college, they provided me with a new email account. This new account lacked such advanced, technically challenging to implement features such as IMAP or POP access. The only way to view your email, then, was through the UI provided by the college.

Now, luckily for us students, the college had gone to great lengths when it came to designing and implementing the user interface for our email accounts. The college administrators had first constructed a time-machine and, then, traveled to the year 1995 where they used their inflated 2010 dollars to buy the best 1995 designer that money could buy. They then had him design the UI for email access. Or maybe they just outsourced it, I’m not sure.

The best part about this interface, besides the fact that it was the only way to access your email , was that you could only be logged into your account for 15 minutes at a time. If you were foolish enough to try to use the provided interface to compose any email of some length, then, when you hit the 15 minute threshold, you would be logged out and the email you were in the process of composing would be summarily destroyed.

It may come as some surprise, but very few students used their provided email accounts. Some teachers would even go so far as to request your “real email” in order to contact you should class be cancelled. The teachers would then sell the real emails, along with any other personal information they had gleaned, to Chinese “business men.” The faculty was not paid well.

On one occasion, a particularly overzealous teacher was collecting “real email addresses” so that she could contact students about doing public readings of their works at bookstores after the semester had ended. As I had no intention to continue pretending that I had any positive emotion whatsoever toward the teacher in question once the semester had ended (she had once marked me half-absent and I secretly hated her for this) and certainly no intention of staying in touch, I told her that my real email was, in fact, my school email. She did not believe me.

Ironically, I suspect the faculty’s emails were accessed through Microsoft Live, such that they were not forced to share the punishment of using the school email interface with the student body.

We approach the present.

This Fall, I made the decision to stop attending college, and instead focus on learning on my own and, also, seeking a job. I have no idea how most people get jobs. I suspect they leverage their social network, a friend makes an introduction, etc.

Such a strategy is not viable in my case, seeing as I have a social network of about six people, none of whom are in a position to get me a job doing anything other than moving furniture. So, instead, I have been tracking down interesting companies with offices in the Chicago-land area and, then, emailing them my resume.

I now check my email compulsively. I’ve installed a notification plugin in Chrome that informs me every time I get a new email and, when that occurs, I drop whatever I’m doing and I check the email. It’s like Christmas, except most of the time the email is just some stupid newsletter that was sent out to a billion people.

However, every once in a while, I get an email back from someone at a company. Unlike all the other emails I get, these are emails written by actual, real-life human beings, and let me tell you: when you’re as starved for human contact as I am, those emails start looking pretty damn good.

Anyways, sometimes the email lets me know that the company is not looking to hire anyone, or that they don’t do internships, or whatever. Those emails are okay. I don’t mind getting them when they are written by human beings. Sometimes, though, I get a positive response, like “why don’t you stop by our office for some coffee” and those emails, gentle reader, are magic.

Those emails provide the trifecta for the creation of habit forming behavior and stimulate all kinds of reward centers in the brain. They contain precious human contact, they offer the potential for more human contact, and they present the possibility that the company may hire me, which enables me to dream about getting out of the house everyday and going to an office (lots of human contact!) where I get to write software. What could be better?

I can’t imagine getting too many emails. It seems to me that people who are getting too many emails are very lucky indeed, since their inbox is full of opportunities, and when have you ever heard someone complain about having too many opportunities?

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