BLAISE TAPP: The era of the email has me siding with so-called Luddites

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Picture: Shutterstock
Cladding being removed from Horatia House and Leamington House earlier this year

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Over the past 30 years there have been some truly extraordinary advances in technology that have enriched the lives of billions of us.

Now, our world seems a much smaller place than it was in the 1980s, thanks to the internet and the all-conquering mobile phone.

While there is a stubborn minority that refuses to embrace the 21st century and all its clear benefits, the overwhelming verdict has to be that these advances have changed things for the better.

But I do agree with the so-called Luddites on the fact that not every development in technology should be viewed as an improvement on what we once had.

There is one innovation of the late 20th century which has pervaded every aspect of modern life, turning how we communicate on its head and I know I am not on my own when I say I would celebrate if it was withdrawn from public use today. Ladies and gentleman, I give you the email.

It is the one recent invention which I would give back in a heartbeat, given half a chance, as it has helped to produce a society which doesn’t care much for good old-fashioned social interaction.

Yes, emails are convenient and the fact they are instant has relegated the letter to a secondary form of communication, which certainly has been a huge boost to businesses in recent decades. There can be no doubt about it that emails are a hugely convenient form of communication.

But the major complaint from many is that they are an entirely impersonal way to keep in touch with one another and can actually cause more problems than they actually solve.

To prove this point, it has been reported that Debrett’s, the guide to etiquette and polite society, has issued a timely reminder to consumers how to correctly use email when making a complaint about poor service.

In an era which has brought us the sagas of Southern Rail, Ryanair and now Monarch, an increasing number of us are feeling the need to compose a miffed missive which we hope will not only resolve our complaint swiftly, but also help us get it all off our chest.

But the very well-bred folk at Debrett’s, who are more au fait with advising readers how to address a monarch or why you should never tuck the tablecloth into your shirt, are of the opinion that such emails should not be sent in the heat of the moment.

They advise against sending email rants with too much punctuation and suggest that you should be as polite in the written word as you would be over the phone. Of course, the obvious flaw in that advice is that people are now just as rude on the phone as they are in any other form of communication.

The general point that emails are permanent and can be shared in an instant is worth taking on board, as there is always a smart alec with too much time on his or her hands who will be only too happy to use a less-than-professional email against you.

Then there is the point that emails consume so much of our time, meaning that our core office responsibilities are often neglected. Far from helping us, the email has only succeeded in making so many of us that much busier.