AS I thought. As evidenced by the “political smears” emailed by Damien McBride, then reported and repeated in all media, emails may be quick and easy, but they are also inherently dangerous.
As a lifelong technophobe, I did not embrace the email culture wholeheartedly when it swept through offices UK-wide many years ago. It is insecure, too open to junk mail, a magnet for viruses, not guaranteed to get to its address and too often annoyingly staccato in tone.
Emails leave a trail of evidence which can be accessed much more easily than paper, phone calls or conversations. Have you ever scrolled down an email reply and been surprised by the other emails – and opinions – it allows you access to?
Revelations and allegations breed like wildfire in the ether. As the numbers of emails multiply, associated problems do the same. Daily e-mail volume is now at 247 billion a day worldwide and increasing, according to the Radicati Group.
As a recent convert to Blackberrying, I can confirm the need to open the latest missive that pings through even when far from work is overwhelming. Curiosity wins through every time, extending work into weekends, holidays and evenings. In the distant 1980s if no one answered the phone, then that person was unavailable. Now “unavailable” is unacceptable.
Ironically, we are beginning to live more isolated, less social lives as we become more “connected”. Building relationships and linking with people, socially or in business, is central to professional or personal success. We all want to communicate – note the extraordinary success of Facebook, Bebo and other social networking sites. They may encourage us to share information but we have to do so facing a screen, not a person.
We need to include old-fashioned face-to-face communication alongside our computer time. Our ability to assess, understand and respond to situations by listening and watching people cannot be learned by computer. Log off and look around you – there’s more life out there than any email could ever compute.
Nicholas Craig is a partner at Watson Burton law firm