Instead of being cranky about how impersonal it can sometimes be, I've decided to begin thinking of e-mail communication as a modern day version of penpals. Remember those?
I never resisted e-mail. At the time of its inception, I was supervising eight people who sat in three different locations. It struck me then as a useful and practical way to communicate with a team. But I did fight the urge to use the tool communicating with just one person. I held onto a belief that face-to-face communication was preferable in those circumstances even as e-mail became ubiquitous over the ensuing years. By the time I stopped working full time in 2010, my view was a distinctly minority one as my inbox filled with notes sent to me alone even while my phone frequently sat silent all day.
Soon after stopping full time work, I discovered contact with my personal network was going to dry up if I didn't use e-mail as others did. But I started out cranky about it. Why didn't people just pick up the phone, darn it? It's possible starting this blog signalled a turning point for me. People who don't want to comment publicly have sent me moving e-mails about something a post awakened in them. As I began responding to those comments, I found myself increasingly using e-mail for non-blog related stuff, even when communicating with just one person. Then it dawned on me; it's like having penpals. Cool.