The Great American E-Mail Quiz
By Shirley Duglin Kennedy
Through my current job, I've reached a significant
personal milestone: For the first time in my professional
career, I have a dot-mil e-mail address. I've been
a dot-com, a dot-net, a dot-us, a dot-org, and a dot-edu.
Now I'm a dot-mil. If anyone reading this column has
managed such a weird accomplishment, please drop me
a note and tell me about it.
Lately, I get the sense that e-mail has lost a lot
of its cachet. The novelty is long gone, of course.
Now, even your grandmother is likely to have more than
one e-mail address, and one of your children may well
be running his or her own mail server. E-mail newsletters
have given way to RSS feeds out there on the bleeding
edge of the information profession. Spam has done much
to poison this particular well. And for so many of
us, e-mail is, well, work. Work that in many cases
follows us home and even on vacation.
I began using e-mail regularly at the tail end of
the 1980s, and it's hard to remember what life was
like without it. Whereas many people are telephone-oriented
and would sooner give up their firstborn child than
part with their cell phones, I remain, for better or
for worse, an e-mail person. Even in spite of spam.
And I still prefer e-mail to RSS. (OK. There you have
it. I'm officially declaring myself unhip, right here
Are you an e-mail person? Give yourself three points
for every one of the following statements that's true
for you. Then add up your score, along with any bonus
points, and check the wrap-up at the bottom to assess
your e-mail persona.
1) I have separate e-mail addresses for work
and personal use. (Give yourself a three-point bonus
if you have more than two e-mail addresses. Give yourself
a five-point bonus if you have more than five. Subtract
five points if you routinely use your work e-mail for
2) I have sent e-mail to someone who is living in
the same domicile and is on a computer in another room.
(Give yourself a five-point bonus if this is usually
how you let your significant other or kids know that
dinner is ready.)
3) I regularly send e-mail to colleagues who
are located within shouting distance of me.
4) I have used e-mail to avoid my boss or pretend
to be somewhere other than where I was supposed to
5) I have used e-mail to avoid a confrontation
with a co-worker or family member. (Give yourself a
five-point bonus if this actually worked.)
6) I have sent e-mail to a public official.
(Give yourself a three-point bonus if you managed to
get a personal reply rather than some boilerplate drivel
from an auto-responder.)
7) I have sent lurid e-mail to a significant
other. (Give yourself a three-point bonus if you regularly
do this. Give yourself a five-point bonus if you've
ever had an e-mail affair.)
8) I have used e-mail to avoid a difficult phone
or face-to-face conversation. (Give yourself a five-point
bonus if you've ever quit a job or ended a relationship
9) I have sent at least one e-mail in haste
that I later regretted. (Subtract five points if you
do this on a regular basis. And ferheavenssake, consider
letting the e-mail simmer in your drafts folder overnight
and reread it the next day instead of being so quick
to hit "send.")
10) I check my e-mail at least once a day while
11) I have used "I never got your e-mail" as
an excuse for missing a deadline or meeting or for
otherwise dropping the ball. (Give yourself three extra
points if this was actually true.)
12) I have sent an e-mail from my work address
to my personal address as a reminder to do something
after I get home that night. (Give yourself three extra
points if you've also done the reverse.)
13) I have at least three long-term e-mail buddies
whom I have never actually met in person.
14) I feel closer to one or more e-mail buddies
than I do to certain friends, family members, or colleagues.
15) I actually met one of my long-term e-mail
buddies and found this individual to be downright loathsome
in the flesh.
16) I fell in love with one of my long-term
e-mail buddies. (Give yourself a five-point bonus if
you married this person.)
17) I have sent amusing/chatty e-mails back
and forth to a colleague who was sitting in the same
18) I have embarrassed myself by accidentally "replying
to all" on an Internet discussion list.
19) I subscribe to too many Internet discussion
lists. (Give yourself a three-point bonus if your in
box currently contains more than 50 unread e-mails,
most from mailing lists.)
20) I'm a nervous wreck if something happens
to my Internet connection and I'm temporarily cut off
from my e-mail.
21) I have abandoned one or more e-mail accounts
due to the volume of incoming spam. (Give yourself
five extra points if you've managed to come up with
a reasonable method of dealing with spam. And please
22) I have at least one e-mail account that
I haven't checked within the last month.
23) I have sent/received e-mail via a wireless
hand-held device (PDA, cell phone, etc.).
24) I prefer good-old text-format e-mail to
25) I'm planning to e-mail this column to at
least three other colleagues so they can also take
If you scored ...
75 Points or MoreE-mail is your life.
Accept it and deal with it accordingly.
50 to 75 PointsE-mail is a significant
part of your life. You know you wouldn't survive very
long without it.
25 to 50 PointsE-mail is just a communications
tool. Wow! This
actually sounds normal.
Below 25 pointsYou are either a telephone
person or an RSS person. Please don't do either behind
the wheel of your car.
Shirl Kennedy is the reference librarian at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa,
Fla. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.