Modern technology has contributed to lots of new physical conditions — carpal tunnel syndrome being one example. Could the simple process of writing an email actually cause a form of apnea similar to sleep apnea?
The theory is that, when people write emails, they stop breathing properly. They hold their breath when writing a compelling sentence, or start breathing too shallowly. Those who experience the symptoms can end up sweating heavily and feeling light-headed.
This is one of those news stories that I greet with a healthy dose of skepticism. I’ve been writing and reading emails for decades now, and I don’t remember ever feeling light-headed. Bored, yes. Amazed at the inanity of some human communications, yes. Astonished at the pathetic quality of purported fraudulent schemes that seem unlikely to fool a kindergartner, yes.
The only times I’ve ever held my breath at the computer keyboard occurred when I read an email so bizarre or ill-advised that I feared for the sanity or likely career trajectory of the sender. It makes me wonder: how many of the claimed “email apnea” cases are really just a reflection of an e-mailer worrying about sending a particularly risky email? An especially ticklish message might cause you to leave puddles of sweat on the keys and forget to breathe.
Given the ludicrous amount of email Americans send and receive these days, wouldn’t we have heard about email apnea before now? In fact, if it were any kind of significant concern, we’d be in the grips of an epidemic. The fact that we aren’t seeing infomercials touting a combination keyboard and breathing mask tells you all you need to know.