It may be the best thing since the invention of sliced bread. But if that’s the case, why don’t people love it more? An e-mail inbox should be treated as if it was an actual, physical mailbox, like the one you have dutifully standing outside your home or bolted onto its outside walls. You should think about it the same way people think about their family members: absent-mindedly but never truly forgotten. Why isn’t this the case? Is it simply because it’s not as fascinating to get an e-mail as it is to get a tangible piece of correspondence? Maybe it’s the commercial activity that e-mail has been linked to: companies sending “alerts” about new products, half-baked invitations to community events that always end up being anything but completely free … the works. Perhaps, once upon a time, people really did love their e-mail inboxes. Then someone screwed it up.
And what about e-mail that doesn’t get to where it needs to get to? Mailing lists are the culprit here. These supposedly distribute correspondence to everyone on the list, but when that’s not the case, you carry on with your life, completely oblivious of what you’ve missed, only to get a call a few hours into the day from a friend asking why you weren’t at “insert event here” today. The classic response follows: “I didn’t get the e-mail.” Fixing the issue to avoid it in the future is virtually impossible. There’s no post office you can throw your complaints to, no mailman you can strangle, no post office vehicle you can hijack and go on a joyride with. Unless you know exactly what caused the problem – often not a problem until it happens – you’re pretty much in the dark, and worst of all, you’re also out of the loop.