The weird truth about how we actually use email

The holiday season was certainly not one for anyone who loves their presents . No matter how many times you sent messages wishing someone a ” Happy New Year ,” ” Merry Christmas ,” or ” Merry Christmas ,” it will never be the same to receive a card from grandma or a snail mail letter from Grandma.

It’s been scientifically proven that physical mail can leave negative emotional residue, but emails — even holiday emails! — have a way of prolonging that lingering negative impact.

It’s perhaps the most obvious argument in favor of sending digital greeting cards. After all, what is the point of sending good news to someone unless they’re feeling well enough to respond? If your college mate is in an accident or has a cold, exchanging emails will be a much nicer alternative to talking on the phone or sending snail mail.

If you’re looking for an even better way to control whether or not someone responds to emails, former secretary of State Hillary Clinton once wrote that she’d rather see a snow-covered landscape than a response on email:

“I’m not sure anyone really sends an email. If you really want to get in touch with someone, you’ll get in touch by snail mail. And that’s cheaper.”

Really, Hillary?

“I think that the idea that somehow you send emails and they’ll magically appear [on your inbox] should not be what people put forward,” Micah Sifry, co-founder of personal-news website Re/code, told CNN.

“If you really want to get in touch with someone, you’ll get in touch by snail mail. And that’s cheaper,” said Sifry.

Over recent years, email has come under fire for being a distraction; users end up reading emails in their drive to fill up their inbox — whether or not they’ll ever read them again.

Sifry claims that there’s been a shift away from reliance on email to other means of communication.

“There are hundreds of ways people communicate now — you can’t control it,” he said.

“The shifts in the way people communicate has led me to think you can actually beat the system — like Uber if you don’t get into taxis,” he said.

Sifry added, “Companies are constantly trying to find ways of hiding that email in a complicated workflows — I’ve spent a lot of time finding emails that I wish the company had sent.”

Having said that, there are some places where email works for business. Dr. Christian Davis, a professor of Business Communications at the University of Alberta, told CNN that most personal email accounts are set up to handle work-related email, so that should be enough to point out to companies that some correspondence is primarily for the purpose of work.

For those looking to discourage unwanted incoming emails, BullyPulpit .com offers a range of suggestions. Most of them involve reminders to check in for daily staff meetings, i.e. “No emails between 8:30 and 9 a.m., only scheduled messages are accepted.”

Lori Arter, also a professor of Business Communications at the University of Alberta, said that it’s important to rethink the entire relationship and etiquette when it comes to electronic communication.

“Email overload is such a product of our over time use,” she said. “People worry more about email than they should, so it’s no surprise they say they just want to read what they need and forget about it.”

“And then some people fall in love with email and don’t want to move away from it.”

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