Finally! Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced this week Facebook’s new messaging system, saying:
“It’s not e-mail. It handles e-mail in addition to Facebook messages, and Facebook IM, and other IM and SMS and all the other different ways that you want to communicate,” Zuckerberg said. “It’s true, people are going to be able to have Facebook.com e-mail addresses, but it’s not e-mail.”
Zuckerberg went on to say that he was “inspired by conversations with high schoolers who insisted to him that they use text messaging and Facebook messages in lieu of e-mail because ‘it’s too slow’ and ‘too formal.’ ” I haven’t been in high school in, um, awhile, but I second that emoticon!
Email is out. Facebook is in.
I say this as I delete 19 of 23 emails received today from an assortment of retailers, organizations and other businesses selling stuff. Three of those emails alone were from Toys ‘R’ Us; two came within 20 minutes of each other. (Maybe they should change their name to Emails ‘R’ Us.) The 20th email was a political joke and the other three were from friends confirming our dinner plans.
I have a Blackberry and I admit, I love the little red blinking light indicating I have a message. At least, I used to. Now it irritates as I get yet another sales ad. When I do receive an email from a friend, it’s a quaint surprise, like receiving a hand-written letter in the mail. Looks like it’s time for my quarterly unsubscribe fest.
Between Facebook ads and status updates, LinkedIn invitations and group discussions, Twitter streams, and catching up on blog reading, email has become like voice mail–I never check it and when I do, I skim and delete. Sometimes I forget which emails I responded to. Sometimes I miss important ones, like the one about my volunteer day at school being changed to a new day or a bill pay reminder. Oops. I am forgetting which emails I responded to and what I said when I did. I’m overwhelmed with status updates and messages and likes and comments. I tell my kids to make their backpacks and zip up their lunches. I can’t remember people’s names or whether it’s Tuesday or Wednesday. I know I’m 41 years old, but this is ridiculous!
Email has become one more “to do” on a very long to-do list. So yeah, even though Facebook messaging accounts may be a hyped up cousin of email, I’m ready for something new. Simple. Easy. It may change how we communicate at work, too. According to this article, independent research company Gartner says that:
“20 percent of workers will use social networks as their primary vehicle for business communications by 2014. According to Gartner, greater availability of social networking services, along with changing demographics and work styles, are responsible for the business move toward social networking services…social networks will begin to invade corporate email platforms…Contacts, calendars and tasks will be shared across both email and social networking platforms. Gartner predicts that by 2012 all contact lists, calendar items, and messaging clients on all smartphones will be “socially enabled applications.”
Will Facebook end email as we know it? Probably not. Plenty of people still use it, especially those who refuse to partake in the social media Kool-Aid. (Although the wrong email address can date you–see what yours is saying about you if you dare/care.) When email came around, it’s not like regular mail and voice mail disappeared. Those tools just became more quaint and old-fashioned–and taken over by junk mail and telemarketers. What remains to be seen is whether Facebook can keep businesses from taking over our social experience and turning it into one massive sales cesspool.