Death, Taxes, and Email

While talking to my mom on the phone yesterday, we came to the subject of taxes. I had been musing about moving to and/or buying a place in any location other than New York City, where I currently live. My last tax bill from the state of New York made me strongly reconsider residing in the Empire State. With each potential place I listed, my mom noted the high taxes. Somewhat frustrated, I said “At some point, I’m going to die. And until then, I’m going to have to pay taxes.”

My mom laughed, and so did I. “Ben Franklin was right,” I said, referring to his musings about the inevitability of death and taxes. “But we should update it for today. There are only three certainties in life: death, taxes and email.”

Starting with the first in the list, death is an inevitability. We may not like to think about it, but it is certainly a part of the cycle of life. And just as you cannot escape the Reaper, the taxman cometh. I’m certain I’ll be forced to pay taxes until my last day, and in some cases even after I die (which is really a terrible thought. It’s bad enough you’re dead, they’re going to take more of your money?)

If you don’t pay taxes, the government will come for you (see Wesley Snipes). Fortunately, Americans do have some choice about the amount of taxes we pay. Each of the fifty states has its own code, and some (like Florida) are more favorable than others (like New York). I’m starting to investigate those choices.

As I mentioned in my last two posts, I’m extracting myself from Facebook. That task has proven to be more difficult than I imagined it would be, largely because I’m a perfectionist and I would prefer my data be purged from as many other sites and services as possible. But going through that process with a platform I don’t particularly like (FB) made me wonder if I could go through it with one I absolutely hate: email.

There are a number of reasons why I hate email. Those include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. People use email when other means of communication are better suited
  2. There is a constant and unnecessary deluge of useless, unwanted emails
  3. Most tech doesn’t help us properly manage email.

If you’re currently thinking, “well, actually there’s X, Y, and Z feature that…”, please shut up right now. I know how to Google. I know how to add features or try Google Inbox or use some new internet tool. The moment one of these new-fangled tools appears, email morphs and figures out a way to render it ineffective.

I also see a dangerous trap with email: people mistake it for work. It is not work; it is a means of communication that sometimes facilitates work. But to mistake it for work is a grave mistake. And the fact that people misuse it as a medium of communication compounds the problem, making it more difficult to accomplish anything.

More to my original point, because email has become so pervasive in our personal and professional lives, I do not see any means of extracting myself from it’s nasty web. Slack billed itself as an email killer, before it morphed into work chat. Most web services have begun to rely on email as a security measure, sending one-time codes to your inbox.

I did have a recent work experience which was light on email, and it was rather refreshing. And I have waged a war on spam and bacon emails, resulting in a status relatively close to Inbox Zero over the last five years. But I want to make that next leap to no email at all. I feel like it’s right there. Maybe one day, somebody will crack the code for saving us from email. Until then, we cannot escape death, taxes, and email.

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