I believe it was about 1998 when I got my first email address.
It was right around that time. I was in middle school. Just about everyone I knew had an AOL email address and they also used that account to instant message with each other.
In fact, I remember a lot of times going home, eating dinner, watching some TV and then sitting on the computer and chatting with friends.
And I remember my parents being skeptical at the time. They thought maybe I should be actually hanging out with those friends or talking to them on the phone.
We Love Channels
Every generation loves their channel.
My grandparents loved radio. My parents loved television. My generation loved YouTube. Our kids will love whatever channel is big on their smartphones. Their generation will love whatever is playing on their contact lenses.
I don’t know.
There are examples of channels and romanticism about channels everywhere.
One that you hear about pretty often is the handwritten note.
We like to talk about how special it is to receive a handwritten note. I’ve been guilty of it.
Or we talk about how good it was to call someone.
But even those two channels – notes and calls – used to be shunned. Why would you write or call someone when it would mean so much more to visit them in person?
It’s The Message
After thinking about it…it’s the message that matters. It’s really the only thing that matters. When someone sends a text message it matters just as much as if they wrote those words in a physical letter. The words matter. The feeling behind those words.
Each generation has their preferred channel. You can continue to share messages with people of your generation in that channel. But there is one kicker. If you want to share messages with other generations you might have to change channels.
Especially the younger generations. If you want to connect with a 12-year old you need to be on your phone and probably creating Instagram Stories or Snapchats. That’s how the younger kids are communicating.
The message is still mostly the same. Funny stories. Laughing. Crying. All the same emotions people used to express in letters, on the phone and all that.
We’re Getting More Efficient
Another aspect of this is the idea that we’re dumbing things down. Emojis drive some people crazy. But with one image you can communicate so much. Why take the time to type out a sentence when you can say so much more with one emoji?
People are getting better at saying more with less and that gives them even more time to communicate. More with people they already communicate with and more time to connect with more people.
That’s a good thing.
The letter did this. You could send letters instead of being in person. The phone did this. You could call someone and not wait for your letter to get there.
And text messaging and email also have a time element.
Instead of calling and interrupting someone you can send the message and they can check it when they’re ready. People appreciate you not interrupting them and their time.
Romanticism makes us feel good. Nostalgia. The good old days. It makes us feel good to remember the old days. But the reality is that we’re living in the best times in human history. And that will continue to be the case. The present is always the best.
With communication, the channels will always change, but the message and emotion stay the same. Focus on the message. Make the message matter. That will improve your communication along with always being proficient in the latest popular channel.