(This was before Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, texting and the rest.)
“No,” said the rebbetzin with uncharacteristic insistence. “I totally disagree. I think we’re using email and all the rest because we don’t know how to communicate anymore. And using all these other avenues to communicate is making things even worse—and making them worse faster.”
But at that time, I wasn’t sure.
Email was enabling me to stay in contact with people I otherwise either would not have stayed in contact or would have had only sporadic contact.
Cell phones have proven so convenient in so many situations with my husband and kids.
Faxes also have been incredibly helpful.
I don’t have any other social media, so I have no personal experience with Facebook and the like, but so many other people love it. It’s almost like having your own web page and blog, but a bit more intimate.
People love being able to post updates and photos one time in one place instead of having to go through the digital drag of attaching photos (which is pretty time-consuming if you have more than one) and sending off a group email. In fact, I remember the stress of taking pictures with a regular camera and then having to go out of my way to develop all the photos, and then arrange them later.
Think of me what you will, but my oldest kids have a lot fewer pics and no videos of when they were little simply because it was too inconvenient and stressful with everything else that was going on.
Also, people have found long-lost loved ones via Facebook.
But with years of experience with email and cellphones, plus reading and observing a lot with all the other social media, I’ve come to think she is right.
Email: Fast 'n' Furious Correspondence
But do the advantages of email outweigh the disadvantages?
Because email feels like writing an intimate letter, you can end up pouring out your soul—which can stay on the receiver’s database forever.
- Hackers and viruses can access it and send it around.
- The receiver can also keep it, then send it to whomever they choose until the end of time.
And sure, it can and did happen with hand-written letters, too, but people tend to write less then they type. And while personal letters have been used against the writer (or photocopied and used against the writer), it’s not as easy. Because you need to either be physically present to show another person a letter or because you need to go through the hassle of finding an address and buying a stamp to send an incriminating letter and then getting it into a mailbox, it happened less.
Furthermore, a lot of unpleasantness occurs through email.
Apologies can be more easily given via email, but controversies can get more easily ignited, too.
Because it feels like writing a letter, it seems like the ideal way to gently let someone know they’ve hurt your feelings or to express your sincere concern about a direction they seem to be going—yet these things often backfire.
We’ve all heard of “flame wars,” in which an email exchange gets hot and heavy, with emails blasting back and forth with continuous urgency.
If you wouldn’t write them a letter or call them or talk to them face-to-face, maybe you shouldn’t email it, either.
Certainly, there's no black-and-white rule about whether to email or not.
I'm just saying that I learned that email is truly a different category than hard-copy correspondence and needs its own rules.