Very early in the morning, sometime after 4 a.m., it begins. Ping, ping, ping, and ping again.
The pings seem to alternate with an annoying zzzz, zzzz, zzzz every time I get an email on my cell phone, which is on the nightstand by my bed because I use it as my alarm clock. Plus, you never know when someone might call you in the middle of the night to say your portfolio just tripled in value so you don’t have to get up for work in the morning or any other morning for that matter.
I know it’s common for young people to sleep with their phones tucked under their pillows or tied around their necks, but I’d rather lock mine in the freezer or the trunk of my car because I want to kick the habit. You see, I’ve been trained to respond like a digital Pavlovian dog.
All night, I get the bulletins from the Associated Press, the New York Times, the New York Post, the Channel 8 weather man and just about anyone else who wants to disrupt my sleep to tell me Donald Trump is a demagogue because he looked at someone cross-eyed or that Hillary Clinton lied again or that Kanye West is our best bet for president. I can always sense when wakeup time is approaching at 4:30 a.m. because the emails start pouring in.
This is life in the digital age. There’s no peace, and much of the information that gets thrown at you is irrelevant or irreverent or just plain dumb and unnecessary, which leads me to believe I could be the most well-informed uninformed man in America.
I have no one to blame but myself because every time a business or organization or profit-minded operation, from Brooks Brothers to Mother Earth, has asked for my email address and/or my vital statistics, I’ve sheepishly complied and shared the information although I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s an intense, deep-seated need to be loved or “to belong.”
Usually they want money or they want me to buy something I can’t afford or send me something I don’t need. This is symptomatic of digital marketing, where they stalk us online with offers and enticements every waking, and sleeping, moment.
In addition to all these questionable bargains, I also get emails from Amazon, Apple, Metro-North, Pandora and iTunes. And how can I forget the work-related emails that never stop coming from my colleagues and clients, so that by the end of the week, I have to spend an hour or more hitting the delete button.
While I’m on the commuter train, trying to doze for a few minutes to make up for the sleep I lost during the night, I continue to get more zzzz’s because one of my friends is sending me stories from the Economist and Financial Times about Brexit and the imminent collapse of the U.S. economy.
Folks, we weren’t meant to live like this. I don’t care what the young generation believes as they wander across the planet with buds plugged into their ears, listening to Rihanna, while they text message about the next party or sale at GameStop.
Email may have started out as a good idea, but it ended up being nothing more than a dispensary for spam and come-ons. I confess that I’ve become part of the problem. You know all those emails people forward that are heart-warming and inspiring, like the story of a Bengal tiger that befriended an abandoned Chihuahua and they’re living together in the Wal-Mart dumpster? I get a lot of those, but I also send a lot, too.
My absolute favorites are the emails that proclaim: “Inspiring Prayer — send it to 12 other people, and don’t break the chain because the last person who broke the chain was attacked by a Bengal tiger in a Wal-Mart parking lot!”
There are other interesting twists, such as “Prayer to save the Republican Party” and “Prayer to save Anthony Weiner,” which are quite topical and add a new urgency to the need for prayer in America. Emails like that will convert a lot of atheists once they realize prayer can save the GOP and that sexting addict Weiner.
To tell the truth, I long for the day when I can drop my iPhone off the Tappan Zee Bridge and let it sink into the murky waters of the Hudson River and get washed up on some deserted shore on an island in the South Pacific where they never heard of Donald Trump or Amazon.com.
Contact Joe Pisani at email@example.com.