October 13, 2009
E-mail’s reign as communication king is over, and a new generation of services like Twitter and Facebook is rewriting the way we communicate, The Wall Street Journal reports. People still use e-mail, but it was better suited to how we used the Internet in the past — logging on, checking messages, and then logging off. Now we’re always connected via “smart phones” and other devices, and that constant connection has bred new ways to communicate that are faster and more fun than e-mail, the Journal writes.
Instant messaging is quicker than waiting for an e-mail response, and Facebook answers questions about our friends without our even asking them. But while these new services make communicating more frequent and informal, they also render it less personal and intimate. The constant stream makes it harder to determine the importance of a message, or whether it warrants a response. And as the Journal points out, information overload causes some people to tune out messages altogether.
Companies pitching the new services say they free up people’s time. “People were very dependent on e-mail; they overused it,” the Journal quotes Jeff Teper, vice president of Microsoft’s SharePoint division, as saying. “Now, people can use the right tool for the right task.”
Maybe so, the paper writes, but we also get lured into wasting time communicating stuff that isn’t meaningful — perhaps at the expense of more worthwhile communication, like talking to somebody in person. — Compiled by Greg Beaubien for Tactics and The Strategist Online