E-Mail Basics: Are There Any Downsides To Using Email?

Email is a terrific communication tool, but is not without its problems. From accidental deletion to messages lost in cyberspace, email has a few pitfalls.

With email, keeping in touch with someone, either personally or professionally has become extraordinarily easy. You can type up a "hello" or respond to an email message within seconds. No postage stamps and no waiting for the Postal Service to deliver the mail to you. It's right at your fingertips as long as your fingertips are resting on a computer keyboard. However, email does bring along its downsides for users.

Lost in Space

Just as the Postal Service can lose your mail, email can be lost somewhere in cyberspace. You may never receive a message sent to you and an email sent by you might become lost in the great unknown. Many times you receive a notice, such as a "failure to deliver" notice. However, there are times when your email gets lost for no apparent reason and you have no idea until you follow up with the recipient and ask about it.

Lost in Translation

Just like anything written, the message can become garbled. There is no way to see the message writer and determine if he was mad, or joking, or being sarcastic. Even with the smiley faces and little email acronyms such as "LOL" (laughing out loud); email messages can easily be misinterpreted by you or someone you send an email to. You may think you are making a point in a civil manner and the reader thinks you are blasting her. It becomes very easy to misinterpret the message when the message writer isn't there in person to explain himself.

Accidental Loses

It is relatively easy to delete an email. With a push of a button, you can send the email away forever. Many email programs have a deletion folder where you can retrieve an email and restore it to another folder to keep. However, it is easy enough to accidentally delete the email and never see it again. It's just too easy to miss the correct button or to not be paying complete attention and lose an important email.

"Messy" emails

Because it is so easy to email someone a message, it is that much easier to send out a message that is unreadable. It makes sense in your head and you assume that as you type the message it comes across crystal clear. However, if you re-read that message you will find spelling errors, grammatical errors and even words or phrases that are completely left out. Sometimes going over an email just once isn't enough. And you can't rely solely on the spell-check feature of an email program, because it won't catch everything and you can still send out an email that will look sloppy and unprofessional to the recipient.

Lost in the Fray

So many spammers are sending email these days that your email box can get overloaded within a day. While most email programs weed out a great deal of these unwanted solicitations, there are still a few that find themselves mixed up with the "real" email messages. As you whiz through and dump the spam messages it's easy to miss a real message and dump it. You should look at all the sender addresses carefully before you purge the spam to make sure you don't miss an important message.

The Full Mailbox Syndrome

Between loads of spam and messages with large file attachments, it's easy for your email to take up all your available space. Depending on the size of your e-mailbox, you need to make sure you discard all large and unnecessary emails periodically. Unlike regular "snail" mail, email will get returned to the sender if there is not enough room in your mailbox.

Email is a wonderful tool. It makes staying in touch remarkably easy, but it isn't without its pitfalls. It's a great way to communicate a message! As long as the email user keeps in mind the potential downside to email use, most of the problems can be prevented.

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