Like this. Or maybe not. Or maybe.
Sometimes I get an email from a friend that is actually kind of personal and detailed and informative, and they ask me questions about me, too, and I think, That was a good email. I want to write a comparable email back, but I just don’t have time right now. Or maybe the questions they asked were good questions but kind of uncomfortable, and so even though I know I need to answer them, and probably will answer them at some point, I just don’t have it in me to answer them at the time of the receipt of the email.
I leave the email in my inbox, fully intending to get to it . . . tomorrow . . . at the weekend . . . this month sometime . . . Once it gets past the two-month point, I stop wanting to answer it, but for different reasons. By that time whatever the topic of the email was, is starting to feel irrelevant, and I’m not even sure I have that much to say anymore. So it sits there a little longer. Or a lot longer. Such that I have definitely had unanswered emails staring accusingly at me from my inbox for over a year. Once the year is up, answering is just embarrassing, because it’s an acknowledgement that yes, I really did get that email, but I’ve been too occupied with other things, or just plain too inert, actually to answer it. When the email gets to be about one and a quarter years old, I finally break down and write a self-flagellating missive in reply, and try to respond to whatever life news is now no longer news, and answer questions I no longer remember what was uncomfortable about–except that I’m answering them so belatedly.
I do this with websites, too. I used to be on authonomy, and technically I guess I still am because I haven’t deleted my profile or my book, but I never had the time to self-promote there enough ever to get above the 600s in ranking, and rarely did I have time to read other people’s books, either. Then my ratings started to plummet again, and I had even less time, and so I visited the site less and less, because it was difficult telling people I couldn’t read their book, and worse telling them I would and then not doing it, and maybe selfishly, worst of all was seeing the numbers of my book ranking getting bigger and feeling like I could do nothing about it. So now I just don’t go there at all. That way, I don’t have to see all the messages I’m not answering, all the books I’m not reading, and how badly Favored One is doing there, due entirely to my own negligence.
So last week I wrote a bunch of posts and my stats rarely if ever broke twenty visits a day. Then I tried writing a paper for class. It was only five pages, but for some reason, it took me three whole days to write it, and when the professor sent it back, he said, “This wasn’t your best work.” And I knew it wasn’t, but still, I had kind of been hoping I was wrong about that. The convergence of all this seeming writing failure made me check my stats less and less often, because they were getting more dismal by the day, and instead of writing more posts and powering through, I just sat back on my hands and avoided the WordPress bookmark, the way you might avoid . . . someone you’re trying to avoid.
Avoidance is, obviously, entirely counterproductive, but sometimes, particularly on a rainy day in November right before a holiday, the preferable course of action seems to be to curl up under a blanket and forget the internet even exists.
What are your avoidance tactics? Please tell me you have some. Come on. Don’t avoid it.