Friday, July 11, 2008

Tyranny of the E-mail

E-mail - 1: a system for sending messages from one individual to another via telecommunications links between computers or terminals, 2: A message sent by such a system. 

In the past decade, the popularity of the e-mail has grown in huge bursts. It's rare to find people that don't have a way to receive e-mails, even rarer to find someone who has never heard of the world sweeping phenomenon. Usernames that seem to have no connection to the owner have become extremely imaginative and creative. Would you prefer to be known as jane.smith or would you prefer iceprincess18? Ah, the joys in creating a digital part of yourself and your, rarely expressed, personality.

Then comes that special day when you get your first e-mail account. You give your address to all your friends and log in for the first time. Expectantly, you look at your inbox, positive you'll find nice, news-filled missives that will cause you to reply with equally heart-felt verbiage. But, what's this? There's a missing girl in Georgia?? How terrible! Hmm, I should forward this so that people can keep their eyes open for her, even in Wyoming, it's possible that she's in this area. The world of digital communication is so useful! I didn't even know about the fact that if we get 100,000 users to sign this e-mail, a big co-operation will give us all $100. I know I could use the money, I'll pass this one on too.

And so goes the average sifting through the e-mail boxes of today. What has caused this over abundance of forwards? I believe it has to do with the fact that we have become susceptible to the tyranny of e-mail. Maybe not the e-mail specifically, but our perceived importance of the e-mail and those that passed it on. For example, when you get an e-mail that says “Most of the people who read this e-mail won't pass it on, because they're afraid of what people think. Take a stand and forward this to as many people that you can!”, you may have thoughts run through your head like “I don't want to be known as a coward.”, etc. So, you forward it and feel good about “taking a stand”. We have let what others would think guide our decision making process. When, in actuality, the e-mail isn't really that encouraging or God honoring.

So, what should we do? How about taking the time to write our own e-mails to our friends? And if we find something that is really interesting, encouraging or even funny, share it with your friends - but refuse to send it to everybody. Forward to one person, adding a personal note each time. If we think about it more, don't you think that you'll stop forwarding on “auto-pilot”?

Ps. If you think the e-mail is something someone should know about, make sure to verify its claims:

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