Clive Thompson’s Take on Email Apnea

A couple of weeks ago I referenced Linda Stone’s post on Email Apnea, “a temporary absence or suspension of breathing, or shallow breathing, while doing email.”  Late last week, Clive Thompson pondered why the condition occurs:

“It’s so metaphorically rich I can barely begin to tease out the implications. Do we feel somehow threatened while doing email — hence our unconscious trip into fight-or-flight mode? Or do we feel as though we’re literally diving into some socially or technologically unbreathable environment, as if jumping underwater? Or is it because we’re preparing to vocalize — i.e. that email triggers the mental rhythms of conversation and self-presentation, so we’re taking a deep breath so we can “talk” uninterrupted for 20 seconds or so? By which I mean, is this a symptom of some form of performance anxiety?”

I found the post most interesting because he also writes about the way guitar players breathe when playing, which, like email apnea, I hadn’t noticed until it was brought to my attention.

On a side note, I’ve been a subscriber to Clive’s blog, Collision Detection, since his October 2005 New York Times Magazine article, Meet the Life HackersDespite his obsession with giant squid (or maybe because of), he’s always writing about some genuinely interesting stuff, at least for geek musicians like me.  Check it out.



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