Unbridled emails can rule your life

I HAVE to make a confession of sorts - I dislike emails.

In fact, in my former role in government, I paid seldom attention to them.

I figured the taxpayers of this country didn't afford me the decent pay packet I was receiving to sit all day, every day and respond to the 300-plus emails I received.

Surely my contribution to the community does not distil to typing a sentence here or there and pressing send (or delete).

I have another habit I live by. Never send an email to a person after 5pm when the content of the message could raise your blood pressure.

Practically, this is a rule by convenience and some emails need to be sent irrespective of the time of day. But it's a rule for the most part that has seen me navigate complex and contentious communications relatively unscathed.

What I like about my life now is that I have a lot more life/e-communication balance.

I still receive a lot of emails, but I don't feel as though life will end as I know it if I don't immediately respond, or worse still, I don't immediately read them.

That takes hard work. Don't underestimate how hard it is to detox from our electronic addictions.

Alexander Graham Bell, the father of the telephone, invented things out of absolute necessity.

His mother and his wife were profoundly deaf. His research on speech and hearing led to him tinkering with aids and ultimately the telephone.

What I admire about Bell is that he apparently refused to have his invention on his work desk - he argued that it intruded upon his real scientific work.

Now that's an attitude we should all aspire towards.

Electronic devices have a great way of conditioning human behaviour. In psychology these traits have their beginnings in classical conditioning.

Around the same time Alexander Graham Bell was tinkering in his lab, Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov was proving that you could associate one event with another and elicit a response based on the anticipation of this second event.

In his case, the sound of a buzzer engendered increased saliva production from his dogs because they were conditioned to anticipate food.

So if we're going to be conditioned by electronic devices, we may as well have a choice of ring tones. Smart phones allow you to change your ring or alert tones by the sender of the message.

Applause for some of your contacts? Boos for others? Perhaps even crying?

These take the standard ring tone conditioning to a whole new level.

I sent my former boss a message when the Lions beat Carlton - a recording of the Lions club song.

I felt he needed some re-conditioning.

Professor David Lacey is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of the Sunshine Coast and Managing Director of IDCARE.