Yesterday I dropped a package for return at the post office in Stockholm. The person behind the counter asked me: “Do you want the receipt on paper or to your email?”. I chose email. She showed me her smartphone screen where my email address was already filled in and asked me to confirm. I said yes. Done.
It’s 2019 and being offered an email recipe doesn’t sound like rocket science of course, even though this was the first time that I recall I got this option. But while walking home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the greatness of email. Even in 2019. Particularly in 2019.
In a time in which many of the proprietary commercial communication platforms are revealing their dark sides, email is as solid as a rock. It’s available as (ad-financed) free or paid option, it runs decentralized, it is fairly secure, and it’s universally established. It’s far from perfect of course and there are a lot of things that more modern communication tools can do that email cannot (although someone people try to replace Facebook with email) – but the benefits clearly are strong enough to have turned email into “the cockroach of the internet” – to use the words of Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield. It’s the nicest thing anyone ever has said about cockroaches.
Over the years, one frequent type of blog post published by tech heavyweights laments their struggle with managing their emails, often ending in death wishes for this technology.
I however want email to live, to thrive, and to be eternal. Not only because I publish weekly email newsletters (ok, that makes me biased), but also because email offers a huge benefit to every person on this planet with a comparatively little downside for them individually and for society at large. That’s something which cannot be said about most of what came later.
I do love email. And I appreciate it more than ever before.