Back in the day, not all that long ago, snail mail and fax machines were the main means of communicating. Then along came the internet and a 5 letter phenomenon known as “email.” Faster than you could hit a send button, email became the overwhelming choice for sending and receiving messages, transferring files and staying in touch with friends and family online.Through the state-of-the-art technology of the day, you could send messages to multiple recipients at once, and even include images, small video files or documents. Fast forward to today and email is quickly becoming the new “snail mail”, falling by the wayside in the wake of new technologies created to meet the demands and expectations of communicating better and faster. Although email won’t be going the way of the dinosaur any time soon, here’s a look at 5 reasons why this solid and reliable means of communicating is destined to become a 5 letter word found only in the history books.
- Inability to handle large files: Although today’s technologies allow us to create all kinds of large files to meet our business, social, and personal needs, pretty much every email program out there restricts the size of files you can send and receive—usually to a meager 10-20mb max. This inability of email to handle large files has given rise to a number of web-based and cloud-based services such as Google Docs, Dropbox and Adobe SendNow, which allow users to upload and share files of several gigabytes both quickly and easily.
- Emailing vs. Social Networking: There was a time when—if you had a funny clip, a cool picture or one of those annoying chain letters you felt compelled to share with others—the only way you could do so was to forward them on via your email contact list, a list limited to a finite number of recipients. Then you would hit the send button and hope that your email made it into more inboxes than spam folders. Now with social networking sites like Facebook, you can share just about anything, from large video files to quick messages to pictures, all promptly posted with the click of a mouse for all the world to see—or at the very least your thousands of “friends”.
- Emailing meets the text message: From desktops to laptops to tablets and cell phones, sending emails is more convenient than ever. But let’s face it, with more and more people moving to camera enabled smart phones as the major platform for communicating, text messaging is fast becoming the preferred way to send messages, pictures, videos and links, both quickly and spontaneously. On the receiver’s end, text messages can be checked and viewed more quickly than email. In fact, texting has become so popular that people are using their cell phones more for sending and receiving texts than for making actual phone calls.
- Emails vs. video conferencing: Once thought—only a few years back—to be the stuff of science fiction, the ability to have real-time video conversations with others on multiple platforms via such services as Skype and FaceTime make the idea of sending emails more “old school” than ever. At the very best, emails have always seemed one-sided and impersonal. And when it comes to virtual face-to-face conversations where people can share information, events and feelings in a direct and personal manner, email just can’t compete.
- Email is a spam bank: If you’ve checked your email lately you’ve no doubt noticed a disturbing trend. Now, more than ever before, your inbox is brimming with junk, spam and all those promotional email blasts advertisers use to make you feel so very special. Clearly, spam filters aren’t what they used to be, and the chances are that things won’t be getting any better. After all, everything you do online requires you to provide an email address. This means that with every internet store you shop at, every site you land on, everywhere you go online, you’re creating a pack of emails designed to track you down like bloodhounds. Of course you can cancel them out, but that can be a bit of a hassle. In fact, studies have shown that most people won’t take the few seconds it takes to hit the unsubscribe button. They’d rather sift and sort and search for relevant emails, which are becoming more and more like very tiny needles in very large haystacks—haystacks that the more modern means of communicating listed above, have eliminated completely.
Casey Halprin is a freelance writer who specializes in technology.