Follow by Email

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Are you really reading?

Lately, I've been getting some interesting responses to my emails. Folks are asking questions that I just answered, or ignoring parts of my emails altogether, which is obvious in their responses. I was left scratching my head over this until I read another author's post about how people are no longer reading, but they're skimming instead.

Turns out, our lives have become so inundated with information - most of it coming from the Internet - that we no longer read anything. We skim. So we lose valuable information and sometimes we don't even realize it.

I receive more than 300 emails on an average day - not counting the more than 1,000 spam emails I get. Primarily because of my work with Book 'Em North Carolina, I am often added to authors' email lists without being asked. As a result, I find myself first thing every morning deleting everything that I didn't ask to be subscribed to. (I wish opting out was as simple as it sounds.)

When I get the list down to those I actually need to read, I truly do read them. Yes, it takes longer. Yes, it means that usually I only have time to respond to one person once a day; I can't go back and forth or I'd never get anything else done. But when I respond, I try to touch on every point the other person made. I believe if they took the time to write it, it was important to them and I should show respect in responding to it.

But I'm finding that I am one of a dying breed. As more and more people skim their emails, particularly on a mobile device whose screen is small to begin with, they don't absorb what was written, they don't respond to it, and later they're left wondering what happened. I recently responded to a request from someone for information. I took the time to respond to each of her points. The response I received back was half a sentence that did not address everything that needed to be addressed.

I'm wondering - how many of you experience this same thing? Do you skim emails, or do you find others are skimming yours?

Does this carry over into the way that you read books? Are you absorbing the scenes or do you just hit the highlights?

And what do you do with the time you save by not completely reading something?