Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Email is so Lame

Back in the day, I remember all of the pink "While You Were Out" phone messages that would end up on my office desk. Then voicemail came and the "While You Were Out" slips diminished greatly.

Eventually, email arrived and even my voice-mail messages decreased. And that's the way it's been for a long time.

Then I needed to start communicating with my children, so a few years ago, I set up an email account for my daughter.

For about a year, she had fun with it, but when she turned 13 — the age at which one can establish a Facebook account — I found that I didn't hear back from her when I sent her emails.

When I asked her if she'd received my email, she said she hadn't checked it lately, yet I'd seen her using her computer a lot.

Eventually, between looking over her shoulder to find out how she was using her computer and just talking to her, it became apparent that kids don't use email.

The current mode of electronic communication of children is Facebook and text-messaging.

Oh, and never, ever, pick up the phone to call anyone.

A recent conversation with Verizon about my family's mobile phone plan had the Verizon rep advise me: "I see your daughter isn't using very many minutes of your calling plan, but she's making very good use of the unlimited texting." Great.

And it's not only my daughter who is communicating without email or phones. I find that when it comes to setting up social engagements, work on homework assignments or looking stuff up, Facebook and texting is the way it's done.

My frustration is that when I see how long it takes to make arrangements for an event — sometimes hours — and it could be done in a couple of minutes over the phone, I just don't get it. But that's the way I see things being done by the younger generation.

What has become clear to me is that when I need to communicate with my daughter or her friends, I need to do it with texting or on Facebook. Surprisingly enough, it works quite well.

So, while I doubt I'll be giving up my lame email or phone accounts anytime soon, I now know how to contact my children when they're not with me in our home.

Mark Mathias, a 30-plus year veteran of information technology and a resident of Westport, Connecticut, was named by Computerworld magazine to their inaugural list of “Premier 100 IT Leaders.” This column was originally published in the Westport News on Wednesday 31 October 2012.

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