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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Lost Art of Email.

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

Is email a dying breed? With the advent of texting and messaging apps there is certainly an argument to make that email has lost some of its luster with the "in crowd." . Electronic communication has a very interesting history that is well summarized here on a site called Imagining the Internet:

A brief historical overview: The printing press was the big innovation in communications until the telegraph was developed. Printing remained the key format for mass messages for years afterward, but the telegraph allowed instant communication over vast distances for the first time in human history. Telegraph usage faded as radio became easy to use and popularized; as radio was being developed, the telephone quickly became the fastest way to communicate person-to-person; after television was perfected and content for it was well developed, it became the dominant form of mass-communication technology; the internet came next, and newspapers, radio, telephones, and television are being rolled into this far-reaching information medium.

Is email going the way of  telegraph services which are still used to varying degrees worldwide- however on a limited basis?

Well, not likely.

Certainly email is not dying or even a lost art.  In fact, from the numbers point of view-email may be as big or bigger and more used than ever. However, there is certainly a perception that email is a dying breed and that is of course due to the advent and increased usage of social networks,  texting. and messaging apps. Despite those trends email remains one of the most popular forms of online communication. 

I am not anti-texting or messaging. I have just never done it. I also do realize that there will very likely be a point in time (maybe when and if I ever do get my first smartphone) that I become a "texter" myself. That just hasn't happened yet.

Here are my problems with texting.

For one thing texting and messaging apps are almost almost single handedly ruining grammar and sentence structure.  The more people text the more they get comfortable with poor grammar and sentence structure. Habit becomes reality. Bad grammar becomes the norm. It's happening as we speak in hundreds of languages and cultures around the world.

Formative minds develop habits and styles of communications.  The studies on this have been mostly inconclusive. However, I am willing to say that texting is having a significantly negative influence on grammar and sentence structure in our youth. 

Just wait until a few generations get through the their texting life cycles.What will peoples grammar and sentence structure look like then? I suspect not improved and likely deteriorated. Texting and messaging is not going to help. There is an interesting article here on this subject:  How Texting Affects Grammar and Sentence Structure:

A slow drip of deterioration. It is inevitable.

Does this represent the decline of civilization?

Probably not. Just the decline of language structure and personal etiquette in that a large chunk of users won't sound or look so smart. 

Second of all and unfortunately no secret. Texting and driving causes alot of traffic accidents and fatalities. 

And by the way. There is no real etiquette with texting.

With email you have what are considered to be basic email etiquette tips. A quick search of the Internet will produce thousands of guidelines for proper email manners. Here's just a short list that is a good place to start from :

What are some of the generally accepted email etiquette practices?

Courteous greeting and closing
Appropriate level of formality
Proper grammar and spelling
Sentence structure
Appropriate level of emotional charge
Complete sentences
Brief and to the point

How much of this type of etiquette is included in the average text message?

Generally little or none.

How often to you see promoted (or do you see anyone following) texting or messaging etiquette tips?

You don't because there really aren't any.

Email is done on the persons own time. The sender and the recipient. With texting the expectation is that the response will be immediate. The grammar/sentence structure is (generally) much better in email over texting.  Check your own emails and texts and compare them.  Email also affords you the time and space to elaborate. If the communication can't be in person at the time or accomplished on a phone call, email can very suitable substitute. Texting mostly lacks depth of thought or emotion. Email is generally more thoughtful.

One more argument against texting and messaging and for email.

What would happen if suddenly we were no longer able to text or message?

Would anyone really miss it?

Or would we all adapt and move on?

That being said. I wonder when I will get my first smartphone and start texting?