Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ignore My E-mail? Not A Chance

I recently purchased the book Socialnomics by Erick Qualman and read the first three chapters today. I won't comment too much on the book until I'm finished, but so far it has been interesting and provided some good insight. It's an easy read, so I should get through the rest fairly quickly, but I wanted to comment about an excerpt from Chapter 3, titled, "Social Media = Braggadocian Behavior."

The excerpt discusses how e-mail, though still a vital computer mediated communication medium, is actually being ignored by some members of Generations X and Y. Immediately, I began to disagree in my head, however, as I read on, the proof shocked me. According to the book, Boston College did not give e-mail addresses to incoming freshmen this year and Apple hired a 22-year-old who had never sent an e-mail in his life.

As a fellow 22-year-old, I found the latter incredibly difficult to digest, considering I have sent at least two e-mails a day since I started college over four years ago, and most days I sent infinitely more than that. I have three different e-mail accounts (2 for each college I've attended and my personal g-mail), and I send e-mails to friends from home every single day; I e-mail my boss countless times a day about various projects I'm working on; I e-mail former professors and bosses; I e-mail my sorority sisters for updates; and of course, I e-mail my mother. Not to mention my Google Alerts that I rely on to stay informed about current events in PR and social media. Without e-mail, most of my friends and family would not even know I still existed and I would have a much harder time maintaining connections and relationships.

Maybe this 22-year-old was able to get away with texts, instant messaging, comments on Facebook, and other such mediums for informal e-mails to friends, but what about professionally? How did he even submit his resume to Apple or any other companies that he applied to? If this person went to college, what if he had to ask a professor a question?

Additionally, while networking sites and other social media may provide messaging services very similar to e-mail, most, if not all, lack one major function; the ability to attach an outside document. This includes Word documents, presentations, photographs and much more. How would this person send such stuff; is it really possible that he has never had to?

All I know is that I have a lot of questions for this 22-year-old employee of Apple who has managed to escape the e-mail phenomenon for so long and still landed a job for Apple. I'm also not trying to knock the guy, good for him I guess. He's clearly been able to master social media in such an incredible manner as to have replaced a more traditional form of communication, at least as far as new media goes. Still, inquiring minds want to know, how did he do it?

I've embraced social media in my life, but I still find the need for constant e-mailing. The fact that others don't and can still maintain a professional online lifestyle baffles me. That's my PR thought for the day.

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