Don’t let messages pile up
There are few things I hate more than un-cleared notifications. This applies to almost every aspect of my life and even creeps out of the realm of computers and electronics. I have to read texts and e-mails as they come in, and can’t stand to see unread messages sitting around. In fact, most of my ‘to do list’ filing of e-mail is achieved by keeping important messages unread. That way, the only route to a nice, clean inbox is by taking care of all the outstanding correspondence.
I’m the same way with Facebook: notifications, messages, requests — everything must be taken care of immediately, and I need to at least skim through everything to the most recently read posts. This compulsion is actually one of the reasons I stopped using Twitter regularly. The volume of unread tweets to catch up on at any given point just became too much to handle and I pretty much completely withdrew.
While clearing my own assorted notifications is a satisfying task that makes me feel like I’ve got a little bit of control in my life, seeing other people’s rampantly unread messages drives me up the wall.
Occasionally I’ll glimpse a coworker’s Facebook toolbar with dozens of notifications lit up, or see a phone with a notification bar cluttered up with every app icon under the sun, and it’s all I can do to dive over and start clicking like a madman. Even a lit-up voicemail indicator next to someone who’s at his or her desk makes me twitch a little.
I said this insanity reaches into the real world, and it’s true: I used to have a neighbor who would regularly leave junk mail in his mailbox. It’s not like he got fresh deliveries of random fliers and whatnot every day — I would watch him actually take the bills, letters, and whatever else was important out of the box, and leave the rest. I’m not sure if he expected the mail carrier to bring it back, or what. Looking at that overstuffed mailbox made me way angrier than would be rational. Coming home on a day when the pile had randomly disappeared (every week or two, the junk would vanish mysteriously — not sure who decided to toss the crap) would instantly improve even the worst days.
It’s hard to tell how long this compulsion has been part of my personality, but as far as I can remember I’ve wanted to rid myself of those ‘something is waiting to be addressed’ messages in all forms. I smash the snooze or off button on my alarm within milliseconds, read texts and e-mails immediately, and even preemptively check for software updates on all my various platforms. What can I say? Everything needs to be the latest and running in top shape. Unchecked notifications sitting around just mean you’re not on the ball. So don’t let me catch you ignoring that taskbar full of updates, that flashing light on the top of your phone, or even that pile of old junk mail sitting on your doorstep, lest I make a particularly harsh snap judgment!