“We are now in a multichannel world where we communicate through e-mail, social media, and text,” said Rob Go, a partner at NextView. “It’s just a new reality.”
The absence of e-mail is particularly widespread among the younger members of the digerati. Young adults who grew up with social media often don’t even know what they’re missing, since e-mail was never their dominant tool for communication. “I check Facebook first, then Twitter, then Instagram after that,” said Kate Scott, a 21-year-old Boston University student.
For her and other young digiteers, e-mail is like a fax machine; they use it only because someone in their sphere is holding onto the old technology:
“I e-mail my mom — that’s the only person I regularly e-mail,” Scott said.
Giving up e-mail may also be good for you.
Last year the Army and the University of California Irvine jointly published a study of workers at the military’s materials lab in Natick who had given up e-mail for five days: The unplugged employees had lower stress levels and better focus than colleagues who continued to check their in-boxes.
But e-mail by far remains the dominant means of electronic communication, so abstainers run a risk when they ignore a tool that so many other people in their lives still use.
When David Gerzof Richard, a marketing and social media professor at Emerson College, recently e-mailed an assignment to his students, about a quarter of them did not do the work because they had not checked their e-mail.
Citing “technical difficulties,” Gerzof Richard granted those students an extension.
He’s also bowed to reality. When Gerzof Richard really needs his students’ attention, he’ll send a text, or if it’s urgent, a tweet.
Michael B. Farrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.