Mail IDs, Male Egos and The Expanding Universe
May 09, 2005
Recently I was overjoyed to get an invitation from a friend to join the Google mail, the gmail. I was told that it has a huge storage space of 1 Giga-byte and we will never have to worry about emptying our mailbox to let new mails in. And the best part was that in gmail there would be absolutely no spam; no intrusive and unsolicited emails from people selling penile enlargement pills and breast implants. No more invitation to join some online university to get a degree of your choice in three months, or get a non-existent mortgage refinanced. The offer was irresistible and I signed up for a gmail account and got a Giga-byte of space.
How big is one Giga byte? I don't know, but it is very big.
Then within a few days of becoming a gmail account owner one morning I opened the mail box and found my space had expanded even further. Now, Google was giving me 2 Giga-byte of space and more. And more? Yes, 2 Giga-byte and counting "If one gig is very big then how big is 2 gig? Well, twice that of very big. But isn't two times very big still very big. And counting? On the email sign-in page the Google team had drawn a graph and depicted an area of infinity plus one.
Infinity is a big number; in fact infinity is not a number. It is a concept, an image of something very big, huge and un-reachable. We can approach infinity but never reach it. So how can we add one to infinity? How can we add a finite number to a concept? If we do not know what precisely is the value of infinity then how can we know what would be the result of adding one to that? One plus one is two and three hundred fifty two plus one is three hundred fifty three. But infinity plus one is unknown! 2 Giga-byte and counting was a journey towards the unknown. Thank you Google!
Google was giving me space; infinite " well, I thought 2 Giga-byte and counting is almost infinite " space where I will not have to trash my mails, not worry about spam; there would be targeted search results and so much more. My world had suddenly become big, and dare I say a trifle lonely?
My Yahoo mailbox is always cluttered with spam and junk mail. Someone always saying, ˇ§Hello, you won a million dollars.." "Your partner will love it", "Get the Ph.D. you always wanted online.." or "Farm girls want you to bang..." And to tell you the truth, I have always loved these, a bit tiring to delete a hundred mails in half an hour, but never was one deleted without being read. Never a days goes by when someone doesn't send you a mail.
It has intrigued me how people go on the internet and find you, or your mail id and then reach out to you. Sure, almost all of them are hustlers, desperately trying to peddle their wares, whatever it may be. So what if it is from a William Jones who doesn't exist and your penis is not in need of enlargement (I wish I could say that with a bit more emphasis), someone found you and contacted you. Penile enlargement is a sales trick and an excuse to get you to see or read what they have; but in this known universe of six billion people, out of the blue one guy, some guy, totally unknown to you, made contact with you. You get annoyed, irritated and then trash that mail or go ahead and buy an anti-spam software. But still someone, a different someone will contact you again and will do so continuously, bother you, bug you or entice you with a different beacon. Someone is always trying to prevent this vast universe from racing away from you; Someone is always trying to make you singular; singular, as the universe was when it was created.
Speaking of singularity, if birth of this universe is a mathematical concept then will the death of universe be a mathematical concept as well? And in the meantime, as the universe keeps expanding, like my google mailbox, where does the space come from? Where does the space come from when the universe expands? Is the space already there and our Universe just engulfs it or is space created out of "nothing" due to the expansion of the universe? And if the space is created then what lies outside the boundary of the Universe? In other words what is that "nothing"?
Who knows and frankly speaking who cares. Two Giga-bytes and counting is a staggering number itself, why bother with any more with these mind boggling concepts. Why get lost in the wilderness when our world is actually shrinking through the ubiquitous pull of emails, electronic messengers and chat rooms.
Coming back to the topic of emails, have you ever thought about all those legitimate mails in your mailbox that you get every day, the ones from your boss, his bosses, your HR Director, your client, your broker, your wife and if you are not a total loser, your mistress. What are those mails? Are they very enjoyable to read? Do those mails, as opposed to the spam mails, entertain you and make you feel better? Isn't your boss asking you to clean his shit? And what about your broker? He is sure as hell hustling you, trying to sell his ware, albeit in a different guise. Your, wife, your girlfriend, the hooker you met the other day, your boss, your so called friends, your golf buddy and all others who send you mails day in and day out are all in fact spammers. You don't want their mails, but they will nevertheless send you mail and there is precious little you can do about.
You can block spam mails, delete the junk from your mailbox, but can you delete your boss's mail from your mailbox? No, but you can simply not log on to your mail box, and that too for days sometimes, like one of the analysts in my office does. Sure you can do that but you will have to put up a hell of a fight with your ego for that. A day without emails will be a day without your ego.
As my dear friend wrote in one of his breakfast refresher mails recently that males apart from having an ID also have egos. And speaking of male ego, I recently encountered a small bump in the otherwise smooth journey of seeking out and fraternizing with my old University pals and acquaintances. A girl whom I had once dated with the religious zeal of a priest in my University days was one morning staring at me from the Google search page. I was thrilled to see her face and read about her and get her email address. Apparently she was still single, or so I imagined, and teaching in some University in mid-Western United States. I promptly dispatched a mail to her reminiscing about all those days back when we were bohemians. Almost fifteen days later a reply came from her, politely thanking me for my mail but with a confession that she couldn't exactly place my face and/or match my name with a face in her repertoire of faces and names. I wondered who writes "and/or" in a letter to a friend. Well, I wasn't sure if she considered me a friend any more.
She said that she could remember most of the others in that expanding group of male competitors from the Jurassic age who crossed swords to take her out on a date but simply couldn't place me. She rattled off the names of some of my batch mates and the frolicking she had done with them, but about me, she was quite clueless. My name was vaguely familiar, but she said she knew quite a few of my namesakes as well. I was devastated! Completely shattered to see that my past had no mirror. I was not in someone's database and my name and face couldn't be matched with an identity.
A thousand names and a thousand faces from my past and not one who comes up and says, "hey, Rahul, I missed you, where were you for the past twenty years?" Or even an expression of fake joy, "oh hi, how have you been.so nice to get your mail. jeez, didn't we have some great time back then?" A man left alone, adrift in an expanding universe and not a soul to hold on to.
Oh what a comfort it is to get those spams, those unexpected emails in your mailbox. A John Williams wants my penis enlarged and I reach out to him.
So, ditching gmail, I go back to my Yahoo! Mail to check if there was anyone calling me out. And lo and behold, what do I see? My Yahoo! mailbox has expanded to 1 Giga-byte!!
© Rahul Bhattacharya
This column is written by Rahul Bhattacharya and reflects his own views about life and business. It does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of other members of Risk Latte Company Limited, Hong Kong (“the Company”) and the Company accepts no responsibility for any factual errors contained in the column and strongly advises readers not to pay much attention to it.
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