Email obsolete? Is that even possible?

by Sally J.

Is email becoming obsolete? There’s a new generation of internet users who don’t use email and probably never will, unless they are forced to use it at work.

Below are excerpts from Teenagers are abandoning their Yahoo! and Hotmail accounts. Do the rest of us have to?”

I can still remember the proud moment in 1996 when I sent my first e-mail from the college computer lab. It felt like sending a postcard from the future. I was getting a glimpse of how the Internet would change everything—nothing could be faster and easier than e-mail. Ten years later, e-mail is looking obsolete.

Obviously, email isn’t technologically obsolete. The software still works and it’s updated and supported. What’s actually happening is nothing more than a classic generation gap.

If you are under the age of 25, you don’t use email. You might have an email address, but basically you ignore it. And you certainly don’t use it to keep in touch with your friends. Instead you use Instant Messaging (IM) or Facebook or Myspace.

Can we prevent email obsolescence? Chad doesn’t think so.

So, is the solution to browbeat these little rebels back in line and enforce mandatory e-mail usage? Good luck. Chances are, as usual, that the grown-ups will be the ones who are forced to adapt. Colleges have already thrown up their hands and created Facebook and MySpace pages to stay in touch with students.

My favorite line from the article: I realized that my agility with e-mail no longer marked me as a tech-savvy young adult. It made me a lame old fogey.

Ouch. Chad, as one old fogey to another, I feel your pain. Read the rest of Chad’s article (including links to supporting research) here.

P.S. Hey you kids get outta my yard!

Sally J. November 20, 2007 at 2:16 am

Denise and Grace –>Thanks for stopping by an commenting.

I have at least two friends (over 40, mind you) who only check email once a week at the most.

Personally, I’m growing weary of email. The spam alone is a good argument for scrapping it all and starting over. But I don’t use any of the alternatives (IM/chat, facebook, myspace, twitter) and I’m not real eager to spend any time with them.

All I’m saying is email is not the amazing wonder it used to be.

Maybe it will stick around for business and commercial use, I dunno. Only time will tell.

Grace November 19, 2007 at 9:39 pm

I think people are putting too much focus on teenagers as predictors of future technology use. When I was in college, I was on instant messenger 24-7. But since getting a job (and all my friends who I’d chat with getting jobs), I am rarely on it. Maybe once a weekend.

And I feel old-fogeyish saying this (and I’m only 25), but I do not understand the appeal of Twitter at all.

Moultrie Creek November 18, 2007 at 8:02 pm

Although I’m on a crusade at work to move a lot of the “all user” messages out of my inbox to the employee intranet, I don’t see email going away anytime soon. Commercial instant messaging (AIM, Yahoo, Google, etc.) is still to dangerous for most business networks and few organizations want their internal content posted on sites they don’t control (MySpace, YouTube, etc.). What I would like to see is companies providing enterprise newsreader systems – think Bloglines or GoogleReader installed on a company server just for employees. This would allow the distribution of company information to employees both at their desks and on the road. Much more efficient that email too.

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