Email Sucks!

How we use (or misuse) email can have a big effect on our personal and professional well-being.

In a new article, writer John Pavlus embarks on a quest to uncover the true nature of evil (email, sorry), it’s technical background, and it’s tendency to seep into every nook and cranny of our lives:

It wasn’t until I heard that a colleague had nuked his personal email account—on purpose, for good—that it hit me: Email is the most reviled personal technology ever. Mat Honan, the San Francisco bureau chief at BuzzFeed, was so fed up with email that he did the 21st-century equivalent of unlisting his phone number and ripping the cord out of the wall. (He couldn’t do the same at work, but I suspect he wanted to.) This abject fear and loathing of a telecommunications technology, and the radical step Honan took to escape it—not mitigate, not reframe, not “fix,” but escape—got me curious about how we got to this point. What are the actual, fundamental design flaws—if any—with email? What makes it such a huge target for “fixing,” yet so resistant to it?

The article raises interesting questions about the decades-old technology, and it’s ubiquitous role in our lives.

Describing email as “the office memo turned cancerous,” Pavlus argues that the problem with email is that when we try to make it do everything (when it’s not particularly good at anything) we allow email to completely take over our attention – leading us to deeply resent its presence.

Yet we remain hooked on it.

How do you use email? Is email really the problem, or is it you? Let us know in the comments below.

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4 thoughts on “Email Sucks!

  1. Naomi Reply

    For me, the problem is it’s too darn easy to get on email lists or automatic updates because…:
    A. we subscribe to some because it’s necessary (bank and school notifications, etc.)
    B. we subscribe to some for general interest (those articles we would read if only we had the time…)
    C. somewhere, somehow, we apparently didn’t un-check a box or read the fine print and SOMEhow got onto SOME mailing list of SOME entity we do SOME kind of business with…
    D. and then there are the maximally annoying things that pop up in our inbox that we have no idea how they get there…

    Unit the final result is, yes – you dread even looking at your inbox while simultaneously worrying about what actual important item you might be missing in the jumble,

    Until you reach the point you want to just “pull the plug” as the folks mentioned in this article….

    But … but … what about that note from my dear Mom I may have missed? or those precious articles about my true interests that I haven’t had a chance to sit down and read yet….

    AND – lastly,

    If I think I can outsmart all this by creating a new email address which I will just use for (fill in the blank), before long, that box too is a nightmarish swamp of the few crucial things drowning in the junk heap….

    and so it goes….

    • Kevin S. Reply

      Thanks for the comment Naomi! I agree that email is definitely a pain to manage. From the perspective of IT, spam/junk emails are not only annoying, but also consume large quantities of storage and bandwidth – and are the preferred delivery method for hackers trying to infect our machines with malware and trick our users into giving up sensitive data!

      • Naomi Reply

        Those are more important things to be concerned with. If we take the time to patiently unsubscribe to unneeded lists, how much of the problem will that solve? Any other suggestions for reducing security risks and freeing up storage and bandwidth?

        • Kevin S. Reply

          Enterprise-grade email services, like those provided by Google and Microsoft, have very effective spam/junk filters, work reliably across all devices, and are in general quite secure. Many of our clients moving from older legacy email systems see a nice benefit when they upgrade their email service provider.

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