Five Things I’ve Learned From 20 Years of Email
Twenty years ago, I did something that ended up changing my life: I got my first email address. Now, I’m not one of those persons who simply got their first email in high school, or through an AOL account. Instead, email was something rather mythical that I read about when I found a book called “the hacker bible” in the IT department of a local book store. The book largely consisted of photo copies of slightly outdated hacker zines from both the U.S. and Germany, which left me with the impression that I had to build my own acoustic coupler and then somehow get access to something called a VAX to ever use email.
Luckily, I checked with someone at a small computer store first, where I learned that I could just buy a 2400 bps modem instead. They also gave me the contact info of a local hacker club. One thing led to another, and I was soon the proud owner of a 30 character-long email address. Initially, it didn’t get all that much use. On an average day, I’d maybe get one email, likely containing little more than the next move of an email chess game I’d play with a friend from school.
Little did I know that 20 years later, I would get hundreds of emails every single day. Here’s what I learned from using email for 20 years:
1. I’m old. I’m not just saying this to be coy, or because 20 years is a really long time. But I recently realized that I cannot imagine a future without email. I know that plenty of folks have moved on to Facebook messages, IM, corporate messaging networks, and so on. Kids increasingly see email as something old people do. Well, guess what: I’m one of those old people. Sure, I also use all of those other ways of communication. But I grew up with email, and it will always be what I’m gonna check first thing in the morning.
2. Reinventing yourself is good.