Is Email Evil?

iStock_000004750446_SmallIn the 80s and 90s the idea of electronic mail was mind blowing. The instant delivery of information was such a breakthrough. It changed how people communicated in life and in business. I was the President of a Philadelphia ad agency in that era. Email was such a handy way to communicate basic facts.

But something happened along the way which turned a terrific new technology that was an aid to communication into something evil which now sucks up hours daily and makes us slaves to the incoming messages. In addition the ease of email now makes the handwritten letter or note virtually nonexistent. Lastly, it makes the sender feel that they have “communicated” their message and point of view on an issue, giving them the false feeling that they have passed the ball to the recipient and are now in charge of the dialogue. How unfortunate on many levels!

Let’s dissect the issues as I see them:

1. Slavery to email

Email has the trappings of importance without real importance. An unwanted email is often as important as the unwanted phone call informing you that–good news–you can receive a lower mortgage rate. Each of us get far too many emails. I get literally hundreds daily and hence spend tons of time reading, sorting and deleting. And how do you feel when someone asks “Didn’t you See My Email”?, and were insulted if their email got swallowed up in the electronic tsunami we now face, and was unread.

2. The death of the written letter

This one is a real shame, particularly that now a written letter has more impact than in yesteryear. If you remember nothing of this blog post, remember this—if you really seek to have an impact, send a hand written note with your thanks, thoughts etc.

3. Arguing via email

Arguing via email is ludicrous. Both parties resort to saying stupid, nasty stuff trying to one-up their opponent. It’s like arguing politics on Facebook, it’s a ridiculous waste of time & effort.

Some companies are starting to understand the negative impact of email and instituted “email free” policies. One such firm is an Australian ad agency, Atomic 112, which was written about in a recent article, Life After Email. We all know that business and personal life can go on without email.

It’s crystal clear to me that email is often used as a tool to avoid confrontation but instead aggravates situations creating a worthless and time consuming (a/k/a time wasting) volley of emails.

As David Ogilvy said in his rules about writing, If You Want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

We’d all be better off if we always told “the guy” (and gal) what we wanted verbally, and not through email. Best to do so face to face. I promise you you’ll be more successful in selling your thoughts to others if you do.

So please reduce your emails. (PS this blog post was delivered to Strumings subscribers through an email–apologies, but thank you for your interest.)

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