Sample Essay on Email

Email influences individual’s lives at home and at work. The birth of the Internet has provided a whole new world to the private sector. Tasks that once took days to achieve are done in minutes and tasks that were once thought impossible are achieved via the Internet. With the availability of the web and the great emersion of e-commerce, one would think that the Internet is used primarily for work, study, research or shopping but the latest studies have proven that individuals use the Internet primarily for interpersonal communication. [Cummings et al] Communication, which is described as “to give or exchange information”, is most thought of as talking; either face-to-face (FTF) or via telephone or in letters. Communication is how we exchange our thoughts, ideas, opinions, and feelings. In the past, using the telephone has been the quickest and easiest way to communicate.

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The Internet has changed this. Interpersonal communication via the Internet is in the form of chat rooms and instant messaging but the largest Internet communication vehicle is electronic mail. “According to the Pew study, 87% of Internet users … on a given day use email.” [Email] Electronic mail or more commonly known as e-mail has changed not only personal communication but business communication as well. Email, more often than not, is thought of as cheap communication; but it is really costing not only businesses, but individuals as well, in dollars, time, skills, and relationships.

The days of anxiously waiting by the mailbox for news from a long distance relative or lover are over. Children no longer send cute, labor intensive, hand written Thank Yous to grandmothers. Instead, both are sent via e-mails. News and thanks are welcome via e-mail but all the personal touch is gone out of these once treasured moments. Children learn to type instead of perfecting their handwriting skills. Grandparents now treasure printouts of emails instead of letters and cards. Email is definitely a two-headed snake in both the home and the corporate world. Email has allowed communication to take place like never before. Soldiers are able to “talk” to their families, instantly when before it would take weeks for news to travel back and forth. Email has enabled lost friendships to be found when there have been thousands of miles between them. Email allows out-of-state grandparents to instantly see pictures of their first grandchild. Email allows businesses to interact between each other and between their employees immediately on issues and ideas. Contracts can be completed in minutes instead of days. Yes, email has been one of the greatest inventions of all times.

But then there is the other head of the snake. What is email doing to our social skills and our ethics? And at what costs?

Granted, email is better than no mail when it comes to a friend or family member. Email users are able to stay in contact with long distance family and friends. The fears in communication of huge long distance phone bills and bad handwriting have vanished. Email has come to the rescue. Email allows busy family members the opportunity to drop quick notes to each other and share jokes and other whimsical email stories. This exchange of communication lets them know that they are thought about. “The Pew study found that email made users feel closer to friends and family…” [Email]

Further studies have determined that email is not as productive in creating the same closeness in new relationships. Although email has provided an effective way to meet new people from all over the world, even after months of corresponding via email and in some cases, actually meeting face-to-face, these new relationships rarely develop into the solid relationships that pre-email relationships are. When asked, most email users say that they still prefer to use the phone or speak face-to-face when subjects are serious, delicate or very important. Email users are online meeting and trying to cultivate new “cyber friends”, while their current physical relationships start to suffer and any new physical relationships are dying at the starting line. These users are losing their people skills. Their social skills are diminishing due to lack of use. Their email skills are increasing, but they are failing in the real world when they are called upon at meetings and social functions.

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