According to his staff, once Barack Obama becomes President, he'll probably have to stop sending all those emails he likes to send. Not surprisingly, there are some concerns about email security since it seems like everybody but me knows how to hack into someone else's email. In addition, the Presidential Records Act requires that all correspondence of a President must be made part of the public record. Obviously, we don't need to have hours and hours of him saying things like, "Love you, too," or "Who won the game?" in the Smithsonian. So, it looks like he'll be hanging up the old Blackberry -- his emailing, phone calling, Internet checking, etc. device.
It's ironic to cut Obama off from the Internet since the Internet was such an important part of his campaign -- and of his victory. It also seems somewhat unfair. I mean, if he's comfortable communicating this way, should he really have to stop? He was elected President of the United States. It's not like telling your teenage kid to stop using the Internet. And let's put it in an historical perspective: suppose they told Lincoln he could no longer use a pen to draft his speeches? We might never have had the Gettysburg Address.
But as we've seen over and over again, President-elect Obama is a very disciplined man. If he has to give up communicating via the Internet, I'm sure he will. But would you be able to? It might not be as easy as it sounds. I think a lot of us are addicted to writing e-mails, checking our e-mails, sending messages via Facebook or I.Ms., etc.
Here's a simple test to see if you are an Internet messaging addict:
1)You come home from a party. Are you capable of going to bed without checking your messages?
2)In the morning, do you feel you have to check your messages before you eat breakfast?
3)You're having sex when you hear a beep that means you have an incoming message. Do you ignore it, answer it, or try to get the sex over with as soon as possible so you can check the message?
4)When you're bored or waiting for a phone call, do you sometimes send completely unnecessary messages to people, such as: "Call you later," "I'm thinking of getting a haircut," or "I'm really bored?"
5)Do you ever go through your electronic address book, looking for people you haven't sent messages to lately, and then send them a message like those in Question 4?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you could be an Internet messaging addict. If you answered "Yes" to Question #3, your relationship is also in trouble.
I'm not saying that this is necessarily a dangerous addiction. What I am saying is that many of us waste a lot of time doing this and could probably cut down on it.
Here's my proposal. Even if you're not an addict, why don't we all show some solidarity with the President-elect by having a No Email Day? Let's all just stop using email for one day. (And by email, I also mean all the other electronic ways people communicate, so don't be a wise guy and think you can keep I.M.-ing). These are difficult times for our country, and by doing this we can demonstrate that we are capable of making sacrifices.
You get to pick your own day for your No Email Day. We don't all have to do it on the same day. That way, you can pick a Sunday when you know you won't need to send messages for work, or a Wednesday when you know you won't have to send messages about last night's football game.
A few years ago, most of us were spending zero minutes a day emailing. Surely, we can go back to that for just one day, especially if Obama is going to be refraining for at least four years. I'm going to set a good example, by starting things off. Right when I finish this column, I'm going to stop sending and checking on electronic messages for 24 hours. Ready, set, go!
Okay, okay. I admit it. I only lasted 20 minutes. In a moment of weakness, I walked back to my computer, and once I was there, the next thing I knew I was checking on my email. (No new messages, by the way). Well, I guess it proves one thing: Now we know I'll never be able to be President.
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from Sesame Street to Family Ties to Home Improvement to Frasier. He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his website at lloydgarver.com and his podcasts on iTunes.