Yesterday, The New York Times - being the paper of record and all – relegated Crabby Old Lady to the “old fogey” category. Signs of that status, they say, are
“You still watch movies on a VCR, listen to vinyl records and shoot photos on film. And you enjoy using e-mail.”
Oh please. That's just lazy reporting. No movies have been released on tape since 2006. Vinyl still has an enthusiastic following for its pleasing and, some say, superior audio qualities. Film too has its uses.
But never mind that. The point of the story is the fading popularity of email mainly because young people find typing in a subject line too time-consuming and email in general “so lame.”
“It’s painful for them,” [James E. Katz] said of email and the younger generation. “It doesn’t suit their social intensity.”
Katz, who is director of the Center for Mobile Communications Studies at Rutgers University, says this is not the death of email, but a “downgrade” of it because young people have more choices now.
“Mr. Katz...said texting and social networks better approximated how people communicated in person — in short snippets where niceties did not matter. Over time, he said, e-mail will continue to give way to faster-twitch formats, even among older people.”
Crabby disagrees – at least for herself. Maybe she doesn't know enough 14-year-olds, but niceties grease the wheels of civility and the people she communicates with speak in complete sentences. In fact, Crabby doesn't know how to think or speak otherwise and unless “Fire” or “Look out” are necessary, she will continue to do so.
Paul Krugman stole another of Crabby's objections before she had time to write this post:
There are very real virtues to old-fashioned email. You can convey a lot of information, if necessary — and it’s information that stays available in the archive.
Plus, the lack of immediacy is, given the way I live, a virtue. In general, I can’t break what I’m doing to talk to you or text you; so an asynchronous form of communication, which I can respond to when convenient, is a huge advantage...
[I]nstant communication is not the future for everything.
One of the reasons Mr. Krugman can't stop what he's doing to answer text messages is that he writes for a living. To be interrupted continuously by any number of people wanting immediate answers means the writing cannot be done.
Crabby learned that when she was still working and was required by her boss to keep an instant message box always open on her screen. Her productivity at that job was pitiful not to mention that when she got frustrated at the interruptions, answers like "get lost" didn't go over well with her colleagues.
The Times' and Mr. Katz's' conclusion about email is based on a survey reporting that visits to such email websites as Yahoo! and Hotmail have dropped six percent from a year ago overall and by 18 percent among 12- to 17-year-olds, although gmail traffic is up 10 percent.
According to the Times, texting changes so quickly even young adults can't keep up. Adam Horowitz, who is only twenty-three, is confused by his 12- and 19-year-old brothers:
“When they text me, it comes across in broken English. I have no idea what they’re saying. I may not text in full sentences, but at least there’s punctuation to get my point across,” he said.
“I guess I’m old school.”
Just think. It won't be long before Adam's brothers will be left behind too leaving egg on the faces of college professors and reporters too ready to consign older virtues to trash bin in favor of kids' passing fancies.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: Santa Claus