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Living for your in-box: email addiction

By Brigid Delaney
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Recently came the welcome news that a program has been devised in the U.S. to help those addicted to email. About time. Some of the addicts using the recovery program devised by life coach Marsha Egan could not walk past a computer without checking their emails.

Others waited for emails and if one didn't show up for several minutes they emailed themselves.

King's College in London say research has shown that addiction to email depletes cognitive abilities more rapidly than drugs. Could you be an addict?

Here are some classic signs:

1) When you check your emails and there are no new ones, you feel actually depressed

God, no one has emailed you. That must mean for the last 22 minutes you have been cyber-invisible. To overcome this feeling of depression you email yourself or you read spam. If you are feeling particularly insecure you can always Google yourself and feel safe in the knowledge that you have 456 listing under your name.

2) You refresh constantly

Isn't it great how someone can send you an email but it needs to be coaxed into your in box? Praise be the refresh button. Just when you despair that no one has emailed you for 12 and a half minutes, you refresh and find someone has!

3) You get up in the middle of the night to check your email

Time zones are a godsend for the email addicted. If you can't sleep you can always email a pal in Hong Kong at 2am and they will be at their desk full of beans and looking for distractions. Better still, if you have a BlackBerry, you can sleep with it and that way when a new email comes in, you are woken up. Thank god for technology.

4) You go to the pub, drink too much then go home and email

You've already told all your mates at the pub that you love them, so very much. And to the girl who didn't ask you to her party at couple of years ago. In the spirit of truth you tell her while you thought she was a complete dog for years and years, you were wrong and now you love her. Time to share the love you feel via email. You get home and turn on that computer. Why is the room spinning? Your mates on the other side of the world are just getting to work now. Won't it be great when they turn on their computer and get an email from you saying, "You're beautiful champ, love you to bits..." or even better a really honest email where you say; "I am so depressed I feel like throwing myself under a train." So you toddle off to bed while your friends in Melbourne ring emergency services and hospitals in London.

5) Your ethical dilemmas revolve solely around email

In ethics seminars across university campuses they are no longer asking is there such as thing as universal truth, or is there a fixed concept of good? No, they are asking themselves the things that really matter: is it ethical to BCC? What are the rules with forwarding on a personal email from a friend to another friend? Should you chuck a X (kiss) on the end of an email if you are a straight man and you are emailing another man?

6) Your most paranoid dilemmas revolve around email

If it's not your BlackBerry waking you up in the middle of the night it's the sudden fear that when you emailed your best friend about being in love with Barry and she mustn't tell any one, that you accidentally sent it to Barry! Yikes! Barry who works in your office but doesn't know you exist until he receives an email from you saying: "Today he is wearing the blue jumper, and when I walked past his desk, he looked at me, and I definitely felt a vibe." Oh God, Barry knows. How mortifying! You imagine all the ways of retrieving the message. Bribing the helpdesk (they like lollies and people that speak to them like they are human beings), logging in as Barry before he gets to work and deleting the message (password -- barry -- all lower case). You bolt into work, its 4am and check your sent messages. Phew. You did not send the message to Barry. When this paranoia hits you 4 times a week you should consider visiting the clinic for people with email problems.

7) Old emails amuse you

You forward them to your pals when you are bored When you are having one of those awful days where nobody is emailing you, its time for drastic measures. You will have to go into the archives and somewhere in your sent email archive is the entire saga of your friends break up with Grant last year. You counseled her via email. Her: it's grim, grim, grim. You: bugger, bugger, bugger. You find the hundreds of emails relating to the event in your archived emails and send them to her so you can have a good laugh about how stupid she was back then. That's why email is wonderful -- you can revisit your former self by putting in a key word search.

8) You email the person next to you

Why talk when you can email? Share the love --stop talking and start typing.

9) Email kisses perplex you

When a hot guy sends you an email that down the bottom has a flurry of kisses, well that's a lovely feeling -- but when your boss does the same thing, it's all so wrong. Is one kiss at the bottom of an email more meaningful than 10? And what does it mean when people you don't really know, like your dentist or a PR firm, send you email kisses? Is that sexual harassment? Are kisses kosher among work colleagues or in a job application? If these questions keep you up at night then its time to ask yourself the world's most awful question (one that you thought you'd never have to ask): Are kisses meaningless now?

10) You email yourself

Recipes, music lyrics, interesting newspaper articles. You see something you like, copy the link and send yourself an email. And that way when you are having one of those days where nobody loves you and nobody emails you, at least you have emails from yourself. Because you should always love you.


You've got mail. Yay!

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