It's Christmas, a time for tales of love and peace, and how goodwill among people can solve the world's problems. Some of these stories are fanciful or apocryphal, meant to inspire...
It’s Christmas, a time for tales of love and peace, and how goodwill among people can solve the world’s problems. Some of these stories are fanciful or apocryphal, meant to inspire fellow humans in a quest toward a better life.
So it is perhaps appropriate that a column dedicated to the explanation and preservation of all things e-mail would choose to celebrate someone who has no electronic address and no intention to acquire one in the foreseeable future.
I first met Brandy Bassett at a party, when she complimented me on a digital picture I had brought the host. “Give me your e-mail,” I said, “and I will send you a copy.”
No dice. It turned out she had no e-mail address. Beyond that, no computer.
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So if I wanted to make a gift of my art, I was required to print out the pictures, put them in an envelope, write an address, take it to the post office and affix the proper postage. Which is, in these times, way too much trouble.
Bassett, 33, is a local pastry chef of some note. If she were a director of marketing or a modern entrepreneur, she would be crippled without these modern tools. As it turns out, staying connected offers no overt benefit to her chosen occupation.
And for every argument about how e-mail could enhance her life she provided a rejoinder about how it just isn’t needed. With e-mail, she could compare notes with chefs around the world, from Paris to Paris, Texas. But she accomplishes as much by visiting a pal who works at a local posh hotel.
“E-mail allows people to get a hold of me more than I want them to,” she said. “I have enough going on in my life that I don’t need to respond to 20 messages a day. I don’t need anything that will make my life more hectic.
“I’m a chef. This doesn’t fit into my life.”
Instead, she does something that is downright weird. When she has something to say to a friend or acquaintance she — and I hope you are sitting down for this — sends a handwritten note. This isn’t always warm and fuzzy stuff, rather it could include a clipping or a current reference that pertains to the moment. Such as, “I thought you might be interested in this, because it relates to what we were talking about.”
In other words, she takes the long way around to achieve what most normal people use e-mail to accomplish.
Bassett said she does not oppose progress on principle. Someday she may start her own business or expand her circle of acquaintances, break down and join the rest of the world.
As horrifying as this may seem, I am not going to be the one to give Bassett an e-mailbox for Christmas. I may be wrapped up in this whole mess, checking two boxes three times an hour, but there is no reason to wish this obsessive need for connection on people who think they can survive without its benefits.
I found talking to Bassett delightful and unique. This was not because of her (lower case) outlook, or her description of analog desserts. Rather, it was the ability to have a chat with someone for an entire hour without mentioning the word “spam.”
Come to think of it, if a dessert chef were to utter that word, it would be more frightening than the context of an unsolicited electronic sales pitch.