Tuesday, 03 June 2014
Crabby Old Lady and Intimations of Email's Death
Crabby Old Lady has been reading it for several years: that she is hopelessly out of touch to prefer email to social media, texting, etc. and she will soon be out of luck anyway because email is dead - it just hasn't laid down yet.
Notifications of email's demise arrive almost exclusively from the younger reaches of the age spectrum but the latest test of its pulse is from a man who is, if not quite a contemporary, leaning toward Crabby's demographic:
”This morning I read that the University of Exeter has had to employ social media operators to deal with inquiries,” writes Ally Fogg in The Guardian, “because increasing numbers of students will not use email, considering it too slow and unwieldy.
“Apparently, opening Outlook Express takes up valuable milliseconds that could otherwise be spent watching Adventure Time on Netflix.
“For someone of my generation, it is hard to consider this with anything other than baffled wonder.”
Fogg likes email. It is valuable, even irreplaceable, he says, among the other formats of electronic communication (texts, tweets, instant messages, various social media) on their various platforms – television, telephones, computers, tablets, etc.
The problem for the older generations, he seems to believe, is that we have not, unlike the young, learned to differentiate among the complexities of those platforms.
”Crusty old souls like me, and bureaucratic institutions like universities, have little choice but to shuffle along in [youth's] wake.
“This is as it should be. A society that is progressing as it should, must leave behind the ways of older generations. The occasional lurching stomach of modernity vertigo is a small price to pay for progress.”
Crabby Old Lady does not accept the notion of youth's superiority in this regard and is much less philosophical about the predicted death of email than Fogg. Her first issue is related to substance.
Texting, instant messages, Twitter and to a large degree, Facebook and other social media lend themselves only quick and dirty messages: “Running late.” “Happy Birthday.” “Here's my new selfie.” Nothing that would test one's intellect.
Thoughtful conversatioin is actually precluded with Twitter's 140-character limit and although Facebook allows for lengthier messages, it is obvious from even a cursory glance any given FB page that anything more thoughtful than fortune cookie wisdom is discouraged.
Crabby's second objection is lack of convenience. As Fogg notes, college students consider email “slow and unwieldy." Really? Just how is that?
Select a recipient – click. Type a message – as short or long as Crabby wants it to be. Send – click. Done.
In addition, all – read, ALL - of Crabby's personal, private business and blog messages, her newspaper, website, special interest subscriptions, her alert notifications and even Twitter and Facebook information arrive in her email inbox or RSS feed – all contained within the same email program page.
So with one click on the icon at the bottom of her laptop screen, Crabby has instant access to all incoming messages of every kind. No running around the internet to half a dozen or more websites, no passwords, no scrolling through unnecessary tripe to get to something useful or interesting.
(NOTE: Crabby has Facebook and Twitter accounts only as automatic distribution centers for this blog and The Elder Storytelling Place blog. Otherwise, she does not use them, does not visit the sites. It's too time-consuming for no satisfactory return.)
What is so convenient about email is that it is universal. Social media, on the other hand, is proprietary so some people Crabby knows are on Facebook, some on Twitter or or Google+ or Flickr or Instagram or LinkedIn or StumbleUpon or the hundreds of other such services.
No, thank you. There are only so many hours in a day, so many websites that can be visited and Crabby has favorites that contain reliably compelling information and writing.
You know, it's young people's job to be contemptuous of adults. Fortunately, most of us outgrow it and Crabby suspects that once the students who now sneer at email as an old person's game get out into the world of work where email is almost universally required, they will see its value and, eventually, even the benefit of thought beyond the abbreviations of textspeak.
They will realize then that using email doesn't mean the need to give up texting, etc. One just needs to learn when each kind of communication is appropriate and when it's not.
Email isn't going anywhere.
At The Elder Storytelling Place, Harry Lowenstern: Of Mice (and Men?)