You may have deduced from my previous post that I’ve been pondering the wonderful invention of email. Right. It’s actually more specific than that. I’ve been asking myself, as I’m sure countless other people did before me; “What is the difference between getting e-mail in an Inbox and receiving snail mail in a physical mail/post box?”
From where I’m sitting there isn’t much of one. Now okay, ladies and gents, if you are sensitive about the issue don’t get riled up just yet! I’m a big fan of electronic communication myself. I’ll be lost if I didn’t have it. So yes, of course I know there are distinct advantages to electronic mail, because
- It’s cheap – no paper, ink or stamps needed
- It’s fast – can reach the addressee within a couple of hours, if not seconds
- It’s easy to manage, file and find later – tag it, drag and drop it in a folder
- It’s most definitely convenient – no need to bother with finding the correct postal codes
- It’s a lot easier to dispose of when you’re done with it – no need to stuff garbage bags full of paper
- It’s kinder to the environment (a.k.a. Green)
So how can I say there isn’t much of a difference between the two mailing systems? I’ll assume that everyone who read this do own at least one electronic mailbox and a physical post box. Please raise your hand if you ever got unwanted pamphlets and promotional material in your postal box. Now, drop your hand if you get some of the same (or worse) type of pamphlets and promotional material in your Inbox. Everyone not falling in either category, please also raise your hands? Uhm. . . anyone? Those of you with hands raised, wiggle your fingers so I can find you please! Nope, still can’t see you. Let’s move on.
If you’ve been using email for a while you’ll know that ‘unsolicited’ messages (a.k.a. pamphlets and such) are considered SPAM or Junk. I like the word “junk”. So expressive, and with such a nice “bite” to it! A nice, tame swear-word if you will. And believe you me, I do feel like swearing sometimes when I find J.U.N.K in my very busy Inbox. These messages still slip through despite some of our ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and mailbox hosts’ best efforts to prevent it from happening. Our Email clients can form a last line of defence if we train it correctly, but it’s still not perfect.
That brings me to chain mail, and to me the most noticeable difference between snail mail and email. Where exactly does it fit in? These type of messages, more than likely, are not something you would choose to receive, so strictly speaking that would qualify as SPAM. It is most likely from people you know and something they felt obliged to share, so you want to think that it isn’t SPAM. The content of these messages are sometimes really funny, sometimes it’s heartbreaking, sometimes it can even be inspirational. Sometimes it is a message that needs to be spread. The way I react toward chain mail (I tend to be a broken link) makes me wonder how effective it really is. Before that chain is broken, how many people actually read it before sending it on? How likely is it that these would’ve been sent out to every contact in address books if people were asked to do it with snail mail?
Do you have an opinion about SPAM/Junk, chain mail and the general (in)effectiveness of it all?