E-mails overrunning a business near you

Is this what the world is coming to? People sitting 6 inches away from each other will not talk to each other but instead, write short e-mails?

An example:

From: Someone

Sent: November, Wednesday 1, 2000 11:41 AM

To: Someone else

Subject: Outside

Did you see that?

----------

From: Someone else

Sent: November, Wednesday 1, 2000 11:42 AM

To: Someone

Subject: RE: Outside

See what?

----------

From: Someone

Sent: November, Wednesday 1, 2000 11:43 AM

To: Someone else

Subject: RE: Outside

That!

----------

(Person turns head, looks out window between cubicles. Godzilla is battling Kim Fields, otherwise known as Tootie from the "Facts of Life," across the street. He nods to the woman sitting next to him, then writes another e-mail to her).

From: Someone else

Sent: November, Wednesday 1, 2000 11:45 AM

To: Someone

Subject: RE: Outside

Cool. She may need Mrs. Garrett's help.

----------

Internet.com reports that a survey by Pitney Bowes indicates a huge increase in employee discussions taking place via e-mail. Sure, this makes sense, for many companies are chains that span from here to Neptune, and everyone knows a long-distance phone call to Neptune isn't cheap. But what's strange is the communication within an office is taking the same form.

Although they list percentages for other countries, let's just focus a second on this great country, um -- what's the name? -- the United States:

* 84 percent of workers report using the Internet every day

* 75 percent use the intranet, which is a company's internal Internet, every day

* 96 percent use e-mail every day

* 55 percent knew Jo dated Godzilla on a few "Facts of Life" episodes before he broke up with her and went after Blair

There are plusses and minuses to using e-mail versus issuing a memo, calling a co-worker or distributing pamphlets from a bi-plane. Some, including Ron Ploof of IceGroup (doop de doop), have even gone so far as to say the constant e-mail is causing stress in the workplace. IceGroup is an eBusiness consultant provider, Ron Ploof gives speeches to professionals about the dangers e-mail can possess and "Shoop" was a song produced by Salt & Peppa back in the early '90s. There are three areas Ploof recommended corporations address: productivity, employee frustration and e-mail paranoia.

Production: "Man, I just wrote 13,219 e-mails, I feel like I've done something today." Is this you? I guess if you're sending viruses, you DID accomplish something, but if you're just forwarding messages or telling people you are wearing a new cowboy hat, try to do something that actually is productive, like your job.

Employee frustration: "I told my boss, 'I hate you, die!' on e-mail, and he just didn't understand the meaning." Somebody came up with the figure that 93 percent of face-to-face communication is nonverbal. All you need to do is every time you send an e-mail to someone, also scan in a picture of yourself looking as if you are speaking. Heck, just get a Webcam and let people watch you growl while typing.

E-mail paranoia: Are more people scared of large inboxes or Godzilla reruns? It's sad, but according to Ploof, people have become slaves to their e-mail. Not just personal stuff, but work items. I have one suggestion for those people -- just change your e-mail address, and give it out to only those people you want to have it, like stalkers.

Then there's the question of just how much time people should be spending writing personal e-mail on company time. Come on, it doesn't take a genius to figure this out. Take the time you spend at the coffee machine minus the time on smoke breaks minus the time walking to the copy machine minus time talking to random folks about how much you cannot stand "The Facts of Life" and that'll give you probably close to eight hours. So just spend all day writing to your friends!