About a month ago I posted a story about two tech writers who decided upon opposite ways to deal with e-mail overload. IT World’s Dan Tynan vowed to deal with every message delivered to his inbox for a week, which he said worked pretty well. TechCrunch’s MG Siegler ditched e-mail altogether, pronouncing that if you wanted to reach him you’d have to get to him a different way. Siegler’s month is up and after ignoring the roughly 15,000 messages he received during that time, it’s no wonder he says never has he missed anything less than e-mail.
While he did cheat a little and had to respond to 43 emails that involved work or travel arrangements, generally he says he was able to get his work done using other conduits such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Here’s some of what he wrote:
“Here’s the key takeaway that became very clear in the past month: the vast majority of emails are unnecessary. Even if you think they’re important at the time you get them, they’re usually not. Our brains are just hard-wired to respond to emails because society has taught us it’s rude not to. We think of them as letters — even the icons for apps like Gmail and Mac Mail make us think of them this way. It’s rude not to respond to a letter…Such courtesy should go right out the same window that the U.S. Postal Service is heading out of…
Further, another thing I learned in not responding to emails is something I’ve long suspected: one of the biggest problems with email is that when you do respond, it often prompts another response in return. This is due to the very thing I just mentioned: people think it’s rude not to respond. This creates a vicious cycle of a potentially perpetual email chain. And it often happens fast and furious. By not responding, you cut this chain off before it begins. And again, most emails are unnecessary, so an even greater percentage of responses are unnecessary. We shouldn’t feel bad not responding.”
While tech blogger Robert Scoble mostly disagrees with Siegler’s views on the subject and sees several ways communicating with e-mail is better than using the alternate methods Siegler preferred, his sentiments are similar in one way. In a blog post the other day he wrote:
“…I don’t answer people back anymore if I don’t have a good answer. Why not? Answering them back just causes them to SEND YOU MORE EMAIL!”
What’s your view? Is it acceptable today to not answer an email?
Read more at TechCrunch.