Chain email, we get them, sometimes we even add them but we are all confounded as they clog up our accounts. Recently my email account has been bombarded with several of these chain emails.
So while I was mass deleting the chain, I wondered what was really going on.
- What is all the energy behind people posting a few sentences of a response, a new question, or a comment?
- What was behind having a large group of people read these individual comments, which piled one on top of the other in sequential rather than contextual order?
- Why were people using such an intrusive, inefficient and unproductive approach to communications?
The answers were that they had no other easy means to communicate, no other place to share quickly and easily. Email rather than social media were the primary means of communication so that was where the communication happened.
Social media mavens know that social media tools provide a better means for sharing the type of information and topics discussed using this type of chain email.
The people who grew up with email and see it as the primary means of communication and coordination may not see the advantages of moving the conversation into a different tool.
This is happening, as younger workers prefer social media as a means of messaging rather than email.
In the not too distant future, message traffic via social media will exceed the volume of email.
When that happens, a lot of things will change because a social media message is not the same as an email.
Email is point-to-point, individual, isolated, exclusive, voluminous and accretive.
Social media is ‘one to many’, it quickly becomes many to many, it is inclusive, topic focused and represents the aggregation of ideas rather than the assembly of messages and responses.
The positives of social media are easy to describe in principle, but a challenge to understand in practice.
Chain emails provide an example that we all understand and we can all begin to see the advantage of working a different way. If you think chain emails are effective, then please continue to use them. If not, then consider applying another form of communications and collaboration.
Are there other examples? Please add your comments to identify situations that illustrate the contrast between hierarchical and closed communications and more social forms of collaboration.
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