Is email only for ‘old’ people?

I read commentary *yet again* that email is only for ‘old’ people (from this page, tho it was only in the comments I think).

I’ve got younger family members, and I think they do tend to communicate mostly via text messaging, facebook, myspace and the more advanced ones, twitter. The ‘old man’ in me thinks the following:

Text messaging is insanely expensive (sure, yeah, fine, I’ll pay *yet another monthly fee* for the ‘convenience’ of not paying 45 cents when someone spams me with 110 bytes of cellular data – right).

Facebook, twitter, myspace, etc – all are the walled gardens of today. Twitter is probably the least walled, but I still need to have a reciprocal relationship with someone to send them a direct message – something private, not meant for public consumption.

The new mantra today seems to be ‘there is no privacy – get over it’, yet I don’t think advocates of ‘no email’ really understand just how large that implication is. Tying your communication vehicle to your public identity outlet is forcing yourself to play by those rules only.

I’d discussed with friends a few years ago the ubiquitous “mybizname@aol.com” practice we’d seen at the start of the web boom. We’d all criticized that, saying how shortsighted it was to tie yourself to AOL for your identity. But now some of them proudly have linkedin, twitter, facebook, foursquare and many other logos on their profile pages, and this seems to be the *only* way to get ahold of some people – no concept of private email at all. My view was that putting your persona in the hands of another company is bad, and I think their view was more focused on the untrendiness of AOL at the time.

Yes, I do maintain presences on the major social media networks, but it’s not the primary way (or even necessarily a *good* way) to get ahold of me. Need to contact me? Phone or email are still the best. And while I use gmail for many things, I still do quite a bit with my michael@kimsal.com email and will continue to do so for as long as email is around.

I think a degree of serendipity is lost when we shut ourselves off in our very closed social networks. I totally ‘get’ the spam issue for people – inundated with hundreds or more spams per day is wearing, timewise and mentally. But by closing ourselves off, we lose more chances for serendipitous connections.

8-10 years ago it was pretty easy to find someone’s blog and reach out to them via email, and perhaps get a response. Now often the only way to connect is to leave public comments. Sorry, I don’t want to live that much of my life in public. And this trend of everything in public has had a chilling effect on my ability to connect with others. I suspect it’s had the same effect on that of many other people, and possibly in ways younger people aren’t even aware of.

I don’t think I’m doing a very good job of organizing my thoughts on this, and I suspect I may be viewed as ‘just some old dude ranting about the good old days’. Hopefully there’s a bit more takeaway than that.


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