Email: Our Enduring Companion

I get dozens of emails every day. Some I don’t read. Others I skim for a second or two. A very select few get a whole minute or more of my time — which seems like an eternity in the rapid-click world of the web. But even though Gmail constantly reminds me I’m inching ever closer to my 7,678 MB limit, I keep clicking subscribe. To daily deal sites (no matter what the pundits say about Chicago’s hometown darling Groupon), and my yoga studio’s newsletter, and the hot new roundup of foodie fads, and on and on. Once you start sending the best of the Internet your way, it’s hard to stop.

So I wasn’t surprised to see that at least one digital media mogul agrees. In an interview with Digiday, Thrillist CEO Ben Lerer vigorously defended the power of good-ol’-fashioned electronic communication. His site now sends its roundup of the hottest in male-minded food, shopping, entertainment finds to some 4 million subscribers. All thanks to the power of email, which Lerer deems “completely fundamental to the way adult human beings communicate.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

The numbers bear it out. According to a study last year by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 92 percent of adult Internet users use email. That’s a lot of people — well above the number getting their news online (76 percent) and those using social networking sites (65 percent).

Email’s clearly fundamental. It’s obviously ubiquitous. And well, it’s fun — I still get that jolt of dopamine when new messages cascade into my inbox. Fourteen years after Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan made that iconic computer ping a harbinger of true love, we’re still in a romance with email.

And talk about a long-term relationship! How long have we been tweeting? Less than six years. Facebook “liking” and (once upon a time) “poking”? Only eight. We’ve fallen in love with them, too, and we’ve had even more faddish flings (some of which we’d prefer not to name). But email is our steadfast companion. The one who didn’t get away. Now that’s worthy of a valentine.


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