This story shows how the medium of large distance communication is evolving. Once people were limited to telegrams and postal letters. Then with the invention of the Internet we began using email, and nowadays its shifting to social networking websites, such as Facebook. Without further ado, the story.
While browsing some albums on Facebook I found a picture I really liked. In a comment I asked the owner, a friend, whether she could send me a higher quality image by email. She's about 10 years old. I have also attached my email address in the format username[at]gmail.com.
A few seconds later I receive this reply:
"i dont have gmail... :P"
The reply blew me away. It instantly imagined that she may never have used email, so I started looking at a very simple way to send me the photo. I thought that Drop.io would probably be too hard for her if she doesn't have an email. So I tried to find a way to let her upload the image to my Dropbox in one click. Finding such a solution was going to take me too long. Then it came to my mind that she probably has an email, but not at Gmail. After all, one needs to login to Facebook with an email address. I should have thought of that sooner.
I found her email on her profile info. It was from Hotmail. So I told her:
"You don't need Gmail. Login to your hotmail mail and send me the photographs to username[at]gmail.com (change [at] for @)"
I hoped that would suffice, but I soon got a private message on Facebook from her:
"ej. I added you to msn, how can I send you the photo now? :)"
I almost told her to give up. Apparently she uses her email address explicitly for MSN and to login to Facebook.
Since my msn account is username[at]hotmail.com and not username[at]gmail.com I added her myself and soon we were chatting.
Her: "so, how do I send you the picture now?"
It was already a bit irritating, but still fascinating: she doesn't use her email account to send email, and she doesn't know how to send a picture via MSN after adding me to her contact list?
I explained her how to do it and I finally had the nice photo on my hard drive.
Facebook has totally influenced how we communicate with friends and how we use the computer. Today, it is completely normal to login to Facebook several times a day and not check the email for days. Email was one of the first thing I knew how to use when my father first bought a computer. For me, Facebook is like an add-on for email, that makes it more social and interactive, but doesn't replace it. However for those who didn't learn to use email effectively before Facebook, the Internet is a different place, centered around a few websites, among which is Facebook. What is email for these people? I presume they perceive it as an outdated communication system, that is not worth learning. I think email to them is like postal mail to me. I know it's there, but hardy know how to use it. I always have to ask on which side of the envelope do I have to write the sender and where the receiver.
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