You’ve got mail – all you need is a way to get rid of it

This morning’s Observer column

‘You can’, my mother used to say, ‘have too much of a good thing’. Since she was generally not in favour of good things (which she equated with self-indulgence), I habitually disregarded this advice. But I am now beginning to wonder if she may have been right after all. This thought is sparked by an inspection of my email system. I have 852 messages in my ‘office’ inbox. Correction, make that 854: two more came in while I was typing that last sentence. My personal inbox has 1,304 messages. My spam-blocking service tells me that, in the past 30 days, I received no fewer than 3,920 invitations to: enhance my, er, physique; invest in dodgy shares; send money to the deserving widows of Nigerian dictators; and purchase Viagra. I am – literally – drowning in email.

And I am not alone…