The Tyranny of E-Mail

999 Words4 Pages
“Today, the world is home to 6 billion people and roughly 600 million e-mails are sent every ten minutes" (20). John Freeman used this quote in his book, The Tyranny of E-Mail, to prove his belief that e-mail controls peoples’ lives. In this book, Freeman takes the reader on a journey of the evolution of written communication, from stone slabs to instant messaging. In the end of his book, he tells readers how they can break this control placed on them by e-mail. Some people find that the history of written communication, leading up to Freeman’s main arguments, is unnecessary. I disagree. Freeman needed to include the history of written communication to prove the three points of his manifesto: speed, the physical world matters, and context matters. “The speed at which we do something changes our experience of it” (197). The history of written communication starts at messages by word of mouth. It slowly evolves to written communication moved by foot, by horse, by car, and so on. A single message used to take days to travel cross-country; now they take a matter of seconds. Even more interesting is when the telegraph line was placed across the ocean from the U.S. to Europe, which cut communication time substantially: “A doctor in South London could pick up a newspaper and read of events that had happened in South Dakota hours before” (72). Freeman continues to express how the speed of communication keeps on increasing. In his manifesto, Freeman states that the speed our messages are sent resemble traveling at great speeds. Our messages are “bumped and jostled, queasy from the constant ocular and muscular adjustments our body must make to keep up” (197). Freeman’s main point in this portion of his manifesto is that the speed of communication has come a long way, but it has hit a point where it is too fast for people to keep up with. Without the background history of

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