On the follies of email...

Once upon a time, email was the cure to homesickness.

12 years ago, I arrived in Kent, CT to attend boarding school. I remember having to (gasp!) write letters to my friends and families in Hong Kong. I also remember the joy of receiving mail (better yet, package!) from Hong Kong, providing all the spiritual support (i.e. Asian food and comics) I needed as a teeager alone in the US - okay, it wasn't that traumatic... but the packages were still great!

When Hotmail was introduced, it was like a gift from god.
  • nobody needs to read my awful hand writing
  • speed
  • copy and paste
  • backspace
  • ctrl+A, del (trust me, this might have saved my life multiple times)
  • cc
  • bcc (very dangerous)
  • archives (also very dangerous)
  • ctrl+f, replace (college, job, and MBA applications!)
All that good stuff simplified communications. It made me feel closer to home and closer to friends. While it didn't replace phone calls (especially to gfs and such) immediately, emails eventually took over when everybody started either a hotmail or yahoo account. It was a great communication tool as I was kept up to date on what was going on in Hong Kong.

The prevelance of email literally flooded the inboxes of everybody because of ease of use. Sure, I can connect with my best friends around the world; but look, I can also connect with all these other people via a few keyboard strokes and a click of the mouse button (I still remember sending one letter back to my classmates in Hong Kong which had a sheet of paper that addressed everybody - 36 of them, I think - in class). Which of course was also done by many people "communicating" with me. People are actually turned OFF by receiving random emails from people they just met.

So the next development was a natural one. Senders consolidated their emails into facebook, friendster, blogs, etc and posted on those. Receivers leave their inboxes flooded (yours truly clears his all the time, drawing awe from many people) and check only those that are important. Result? Less emails!

Instead of emails, you communicate by putting a status on your IM... "need furniture" is mine right now, signaling I just moved in to everybody. A blog entry (oh the irony) is used to communicate. Oh wait, but there's more! Enter Google Reader and Email Reminders (banks, photo albums, friend's websites, and so on). These little gadgets tell you when something is updated!

Thumbs up: no need to go to friends page anymore; everything is fed
Thumbs down: no need to go to friends page anymore
Thumbs waaaaaay down: no more emailing
Thumbs waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down: no more communication

And that, my friends, is the follie of emails.

1 comment:

Ben said...

very true...that's why I do the extra click to leave a comment on your page.