February 15th, 2011

Mister Cranky-pants

The Future of Email, or, Get The Hell Off My Lawn

So somebody on twitter linked to some blog about "teens hate email, and therefore it is doomed".

I have seen this argument before, and it makes me crazy because it is so goddamn STUPID.

Is email a lousy way to chat with your friends? Absolutely. Is it awkward and cumbersome for inviting people to social events? In many ways, yes, it is. Is it kind of lame for sharing some cool thing you just saw on the web? Oh, very yes.

And behold! The rise of facebook and tumblr and twitter and a bajillion other social media kinds of thingies, which are nicer and more fun and easier for all that social kind of stuff.


Are any of these social media appropriate channels for business communications? Like, "Hi John, I need to order 75 units for delivery by next Friday," or "John, any word on the delivery? We really need it," or "Dear Mr. Johnson, if we do not receive our delivery on time, you will be in breach of contract"?

HELL TO THE GODDAMN NO! What are you, crazy?

If you're going to make pronouncements about what teen behavior suggests about the future of communications, it's important to remember that teenagers do not live like grown-ups do, and that therefore their communications needs might be just a wee bit different. Teens don't have real jobs where you need have to look something up from several months ago, or have a record of some kind that establishes accountability, or stringently control where information flows, or fulfill legal requirements regarding confidentiality. They also don't have 401-K accounts, or life insurance, or mortgages, or PTO for taking sick kids to the doctor, or any of that kind of thing. They have social events and homework and dates and that's about it.

Not that I'm particularly enamored of email or anything. I would like to send less of it, to be honest. But it has some salient features for professional use that social media alternatives do not.

And it's just so bleeding OBVIOUS that what people prefer as teens might not be the sole determining factor in what they do once they become actual adults that I am made a bit becrabbified that anybody would take the argument seriously. Come on, people, THINK! Use your brainmeats! Don't parrot arguments just because they make you feel good, actually evaluate what they have to say!

Now get off my goddamn lawn!