Over the past 30 years, there have been some extraordinary advances in technology that have enriched the lives of billions of us.
But I do agree with the so- called Luddites on the fact that not every development in technology should be viewed as an improvement on what we once had. There is one innovation of the late 20th century which has pervaded every aspect of modern life, turning how we communicate on its head, and I know I am not on my own when I say I would celebrate if it was withdrawn from public use today.
Ladies and gentleman, I give you the email. It is the one recent invention which I would give back in a heartbeat, as it has helped to produce a society which doesn’t much care for good old fashioned social interaction.
Yes, emails are convenient and the fact they are instant has relegated the letter to a secondary form of communication, which certainly has been a huge boost to businesses in recent decades.
But the major complaint from many is that they are an entirely impersonal way to keep in touch with one another and can actually cause more problems than they actually solve.
To prove this point, it has been reported that Debrett’s, the guide to etiquette, has issued a timely reminder to consumers how to correctly use email when making a complaint about poor service. In an era which has brought us the sagas of Southern Railways, Ryanair and now Monarch, an increasing number of us are feeling the need to compose a missive, which, we hope, will not only resolve our complaint swiftly but also help us get it all off our chest. But the well-bred folk at Debrett’s are of the opinion that such emails should not be sent in the heat of the moment. They suggest you should be as polite in the written word as you would be over the phone.
The general point that emails are permanent and can be shared in an instant is worth taking on board.
Then there is the point that emails consume so much of our time, meaning our core office responsibilities are neglected. Far from helping, the email has only succeeded in making so many of us that much busier.