MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH E-MAIL
All my life I have hated writing letters and yet I send out over 100 e-mail messages a month. Why? Several reasons come to mind: the ease of sending - no envelope, stamp or a trip to the nearest mail box is required; the immediacy of reply - sometimes in an hour or less; the frequency and ease of access (oops, excuse me a minute, my computer automatically checks for messages once every two hours, some e-mail just came in and I really must read it); being able to attach graphic and text files to a message, the sense of being in instant and constant contact with the rest of the world; the ability to easily send the same message to several people at the same time; and, sending out questions on computer problems (to a listserv or a friend) and getting the answers back the same day (I thought of including software and hardware companies, but they seldom answer the same day).
I also like being able to send a message, not matter what time of day or night without disturbing the receiver. I often work late at night, when other people are in bed. I sometimes come across something I wish to tell someone about or discuss with them. I can't phone people at that time of night, even to talk to their answering machines, as that would wake them up. Of course, I could wait until morning, but the time I'm up they will have gone to work. And by the next evening, it may be too late for the answer I need or I may forget, remembering later when they are already in bed - and the cycle starts again. So I send them an e-mail message and often by the time I get up the next morning, I have an answer in my e-mail.
It has also become very useful in organizing meetings and special events for VMUG. We now have a private listserv for VMUG's executive to assist us decision-making, special events, etc. Six months ago, this kind of instant communication between the members of the executive was difficult. The VMUG Members private listserv also is an excellent way of getting instant feedback and help on ideas, event planning, logo design, etc.
There is only one problem with this relatively new (to me) technology - now that I have it, I can't do without it. It's really addictive!
Excuse me, I have to go now, some more e-mail just came in and I just can't wait to read it.
I put this article on the Mug News Listserv after it was published and got the following reply from LaVerne Kehr. She thought of some more reasons to love e-mail which you may find interesting.
Until I tried it myself, I couldn't understand what was the big deal about e-mail - mail is mail, most of us like to receive it, but when people spoke of getting e-mail, a certain almost-mystical fervor crept into their voices that was alien to me. Now that I've been getting e-mail for several months, I share the fervor but would be hard-pressed to explain to a non-participant what's special about it. You've explained the difference in a discerning and also gently humorous way - good job.
Among other things, you said "I often work late at night, when other people are in bed. I sometimes come across something I wish to tell someone about or discuss with them. I can't phone people at that time of night, even to talk to their answering machines, as that would wake them up." I too am a night-owl; highly accurate. In addition, I find that when I sit down to my computer, I'm "in the mood to communicate", either with the computer itself or with other people via the computer. Which is an entirely different experience than slogging down to our physical mailbox at the end of the drive and retrieving actual physical mail while the soup for lunch simmers on the stove.
This article was published in the November 1995 issue of the Victoria Macintosh Users Group's newsletter "MACtalk" in Vicky's monthly article "VMUG On-Line". Subsequently, it was published on the MUG News Listserv and The User Group Network.
Vicky Vickers is the owner of Word Crunchers, Etc. which specializes in website design and HTML training. She is a past-president (1994-6) and former webmaster (1995-8) of Victoria Macintosh Users Group (VMUG). She also founded and was the first president (1996) of the Web Enthusiasts Association of Victoria (WEAV).
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