If you read the press lately, one would think that email is on its death bed. There are primarily two reasons why people are predicting email’s demise. First, people are using Facebook for email and the CEO, Mark Zuckenburg thought that they might give Google Gmail a run for its money with its Gmail service. The second reason is that because of Facebook and cell phones, 2011 teenagers are using email less than 2005 teenagers. Let me debunk these silly thoughts straight away.
Facebook is not in any way competition for email. Although there is a messaging feature, it cannot really replace the vast number of features that are in email. Here are just a few.
Formatting. I don’t care what you use for an email client, there are some basic formatting options like font size, font type,font color, left justify, center, and so on. There are no formatting options for Facebook. Zero.
Archives. On my hard drive, I have every email I have every received and sent for the last 12 years. It is has come in so handy when I trying to remember a particular time in my life or what I was doing or experiencing. Facebook does have a way to do search your emails but its dinky little interface makes it possible to do only the most basic searches.
Attachments. Facebook allows you to attach a photo or a video, but normally when I attach something it is usually a PowerPoint presentation or an Excel spreadsheet. It is clear that Facebook is severaly limited.
Suffice it to say that for me, Facebook messaging is more like a toy. I do use the toy and one can have basic conversations but when things get more in depth, I usually refer people to my main email account.
It does seem like the entry age for getting an email account is going up. Teenagers now communicate using IM and Facebook, but they will all get an email account eventually. They can delay getting one, but they can’t avoid it. Here’s why.
Uniqueness. Email is perhaps one of the best ways to digitally differentiate between one person and another. This means that two people can not have the same email address. One person can have multiple email addresses but two people never can have the same email address. This uniqueness is used in a wide variety of ways to ensure security of the internet and to prevent fraud. It is not perfect, but email is used at the very center of tons of facilities and products. There are literally thousands of web sites that require an email address as a verification. An email is sent to actually verify the person. The irony is that even Facebook requires an email address to verify the user. The email address is the only way that Facebook can ensure that one person does not have a thousand different Facebook accounts.
Business. In tune with the uniqueness issue, the key way that business interfaces with its customers is via email. This is the way we get our hotel reservations, airline confirmations, credit card bills and on and on. The reason that teenagers do not have email addresses is because they have not had to do these things on their own. But one day they will, and they will have to bite the bullet and set up a free email account. Hey kids, it’s not that bad! It’s part of growing up.
I love email. For me it is the perfect way to express myself and communicate effectively with large amounts of people. Let me explain why.
Time Management. When I do my email, I set out a specific time each day to read and reply to emails. I go through them and try to prioritize which ones are the most important, but the goal is to get through all of them. The key point is that I am not responding as the emails are arriving. I am able to control my time, and then I can give each email the amount of attention it deserves. In many ways, I think that instant message is a step backwards. Instant message is for people that want an immediate response. The flaw in this is that the fastest response is not always the best or most accurate response.
Expression. I know that I am different than most. I have all the ideas in my head and I can type faster than almost anyone that I know. For me the email works best because I can get all of my thoughts out of my head and on to other people. Sometimes, my thoughts are very clear and I can type a lot about them. That is best because people can pick up nuance and understand finer points of my message. I do not think that one would ever attempt to read an article like this via instant message or Facebook email.
Email certainly has its flaws. We still have not licked the spam problem. My Yahoo account is still jammed with dirty porn type of advertisements, although Gmail seems to do a much better job. Also, email is still limited to basic typewriter text layout, but it has expanded to where one can be more creative in their email expression.
Despite these lackings, there is no way that email is on its last legs, in fact, it seems like it is just beginning.