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Happily Unplugged

James Martin had a charming piece in America (May 8) on why he doesn’t have e-mail, or even a computer. No Luddite he; it’s simply that he developed a bad case of tendinitis from using his computer too much. In every upset, it’s said, there can be an asset, and Martin’s cup runneth over with assets. The computer-free Martin now handwrites his letters, and — guess what? — people express appreciation for the personal touch. Martin continues: “I don’t have to slog through garbage E-mail messages” — and his pen never crashes. “Do I fret about toting around a laptop to keep up with my date book? No. And the insidious Melissa virus that infected computers worldwide? Hey, no sweat…. Bring on Y2K. My writing pad and I are ready.” (Too bad people don’t get tendinitis from watching television!)

We hear of people spending an hour or two each day wading through and responding to their e-mail messages. The Bruderhof, which runs the Plough Publishing House and puts out The Plough quarterly, reports (in The Plough, Autumn 1998) that, after three years, it has junked its e-mail system entirely. Why? Because it didn’t bring “new energy” but “new fatigue.” Instead of enhancing productivity, it “mostly paralyzed” their operation.

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