The Death of E-mail?

25 Sep


Reposting this oldie but goodie….first published in August 2009.

Back in the early 1990s, e-mail was considered exciting and new. Hard to believe, Millennials, I know. There once was a time when e-mailing attachments was as exciting as sharing video with friends on Facebook. You could even send around prehistoric versions of Facebook quizzes and notes…they were called chain letters.

Long ago, in the dark ages of the 1990s, e-mail was considered revolutionary because it was “instantaneous.” We’ve come a long way, baby. “Instantaneous” is relative. It’s getting faster, and more complex, every day. Instant messaging tools from just a few years ago (like MSN Messenger and AIM) are now obsolete, replaced by social networks that facilitate instant sharing of pretty much any type of media that can be digitized–not just text. Even my mother, who is 71, recently joined Facebook so that she could see mobile uploads of her grandkids’ vacation photos.

As for snail mail, the U.S. Postal Service is considering the elimination of Saturday delivery. I won’t miss it. What about our not-so-old, reliable and not-so-instantaneous friend e-mail? What’s to become of one-sided messaging?

Here’s my prediction: As more baby boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials transition to regular use of social networks for both personal and business use, e-mail will fade away. More and more of our time will be spent in real-time interaction through tools like Facebook and Twitter, and their successors, and less time will be spent in cleaning out our in-boxes.

Why? Because in a world of information overload, we are hungry for friend-sourced information. Just knowing that a friend recommended a particular article or video makes me more interested in seeing it. And commenting in a venue where other friends can comment back just opens up the conversation for more thoughts. Social networking creates a forum where I can read the news “with” my friends–having the added bonus of their feedback and opinions built right in.

It’s all about engagement in the context of information. Social networking makes us happy because it informs us and keeps us connected with friends, at the same time. While it doesn’t replace in-person interaction, social networking is a good complement, when used judiciously.

3 Responses to “The Death of E-mail?”

  1. gmonteith at 2:44 pm #

    Good post, Kim. E-mail was revolutionary at the time, and still works well. It’s not instantaneous, but it gets the job done by allowing someone to push information to a large number of people all at once. Of course, you are right that it probably will be replaced by something else. Will be interesting to see how it all evolves.

    • toknowbetter at 11:37 am #

      Thanks, Gene. Agreed that e-mail still has its place. Will be interesting to see how much longer it lasts.

  2. abletowalk7 at 11:09 am #

    Hi Kim,
    Yes, I know all about Facebook, Twitter and the likes but they can be a bit too personal, invading one’s privacy. It can and has done harm to others by bullying, threatening…well you know the rest. It’s on the news more often than I’d like.
    But when you find yourself not able to go and do the things you’d like to do in person, e-mail has personally saved my life, socially. And from time to time, I recieve medical information which keeps me informed regarding my particular illness.
    So for me, E-Mail is my friend and I hope it stays around longer than expected.
    Enjoy this day!

    E-Mail with Grace,

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