An email love letter

I love email. It’s my preferred mode of digital communication. 

Like most things, email is subject to a boom/bust hype cycle. Email has been declared dead many times. Each declaration of its demise is usually followed by equally exaggerated proclamations of the opposite kind. Email will save us from the dystopian dreams of our tech overlords and so forth, and so on. 

All the while this goes on, I’m emailing people and people are emailing me. Friends, enemies and everyone else. My wife sends me a weekly email with the dinner menu for the following week. Friends email me to let me know what’s going on with their lives, and to catch up on what’s going on with mine. Strangers sometimes email me to tell me that they enjoyed, or didn’t enjoy, something that I wrote.

Sometimes I’m quick to respond. Other times I’m not. With email, that’s fine. Nobody can see if you’re typing a response to an email they sent you, thank the lord. Email isn’t subject to the pressure of immediacy that plagues so much of modern communication technology. Even corporate management couldn’t force email to become a medium of immediacy. So now we have stuff like Slack and Teams instead. Which is great. Because it means more space in my mailbox for the stuff that matters.

An email is the digital equivalency of a letter. And everyone knows a rushed letter is a wasted letter. Don’t waste an email by rushing it. Take your time. I’ll wait, and so will everyone else who’s worth emailing. I have an email from six months back that I’m going to respond to. Soon. I haven’t forgotten to do it, I just haven’t figured out exactly how I want to say what I have to say.

Another great thing about email is that it is just the right amount of private. When I email someone, I do it expecting to have a private conversation. But emails sometimes get lost. Someone pushes the wrong button, enters the wrong recipient, and suddenly is out there. That’s why I try not to say anything in an email that I can’t shout from a stage. Write on my blog. In fact, an email is a lot like a blog post for an audience of one.

Some smart people realised this. They put together a list of people who wanted (more or less) to get emails from them, and started emailing them on a regular basis. Newsletters. There are a lot of great newsletters out there. I love opening my inbox and finding a new edition of a newsletter in my inbox. Honestly, it beats my RSS reader. It feels more personal to have it addressed to me personally. Sometimes the sender will even use name tags and include my name in the email. I’m simple, so I like that.

I hope more people will start emailing me. That more friends will email me to keep in touch. I’m no good at keeping up with my friends, because talking on the phone appears to be the de facto standard for staying in touch with people who don’t live close by. I hate talking on the phone. It makes me feel stressed and nervous. But I love reading and responding to emails.

And I hope future friends reading this will send me an email and introduce themselves. Tell me what they are up to, and how they are feeling. If things are going good or not so good. I’m terrible at getting to know new people. I just don’t know what to say. But I love reading and responding to emails.

My email is I hope you’ll send me a digital letter. I promise I’ll reply. Sooner or later.


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