OK, I am having serious metaphor issues.
As I am cleaning the first chapter of the book, "I have a fancy title, steady paycheck and good benefits. Why am I so miserable?" I am working on a section called "blood from a turnip." You know what I am talking about, where your life force is squeezed from you as you desperately try to keep up with outrageous amounts of work, since they doubled your workload after cutting half the staff last round of layoffs.
So when I get to the part about the overwhelming volume of email in a corporate setting these days, I think "This would be a great place for nature metaphors. Something like that algae that is taking over ocean wildlife, or the crabs who hide under ships from China and jump off in San Francisco Bay and eat all the native creatures."
So I google "predator sealife," or some such thing, and come across this fantastic book, Killer Algae by Alexandre Meinesz.
It reads like a suspense novel and science fiction nightmare, only it is a true story and happening now. Here is an excerpt:
In the early 1980s, the curator of the tropical aquarium at Stuttgart, Germany, noticed the exceptional properties of a beautiful green alga, Caulerpa taxifolia, used as decoration in the presentation of multicolored tropical fishes. In contrast to other algae, it does not wither, it grows with astounding vigor, it resists cool water temperatures, and it serves as a secondary food source for herbivorous tropical fishes. Specialists quickly learned about these qualities, and public aquaria acquired cuttings.
This is how it arrived at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, where it was cultivated beginning in 1982. Two years later, the alga was discovered in nature, under the windows of this celebrated building. At that time, the beautiful stranger occupied only a square meter of Mediterranean bottom. Six years later, the alga was noted on the French coast five kilometers from Monaco; its detrimental impact on coastal ecosystems was deplored. The alga grows everywhere, from the surface to the lower limits of underwater vegetation. It grows as well in front of capes swept by storms and currents as on the soft bottoms of sheltered bays, on the polluted mud of harbors as on stretches of bottom with a diverse flora and fauna. Highly toxic, it barely interests herbivores; they have not hindered its spread. It is thus growing unrestrained, covering and then eliminating many plant and animal species. A new equilibrium is reached when the alga forms a dense, uniform carpet that persists from year to year (highlight my emphasis).
"A new equilibrium is reached when the alga forms a dense, uniform carpet that persists from year to year."
Isn’t that a delicious metaphor for email?
So I vet it with my Twitter friends and it seems they prefer the killer plant Kudzu, an import to the Southern United States from Japan that grows about a foot in one evening and eats everything in its path. More here.
Some people even suggested bunnies gone wild was a good metaphor for out of control email, but, come on, where is the terror in bunnies?
So I am asking for your vote:
Metaphor for the out-of-control growth of email: killer algae or kudzu?
If you vote for bunnies gone wild, I might just have to eject you from this forum. 🙂