Well, well, well. Based on the number of emails I received after my last column, apparently I’m not alone in my dismay over losing the Cal.net email address I’ve had for two decades. Yes, plenty of folks took the time send me a line about Cal.net’s melon-headed decision.
“Send me a line.” Ah, telegraph. Compared to ye good olde town crier, you seemed like magic.
Don’t snicker, U.S. Mail. You’ve got one foot in the grave of communication history and the other on a stack of slippery junk mail stuck inside a slick grocery store insert. Don’t get too cocky.
Remember real paper letters? Running them to the mailbox just in time, and waiting breathlessly for a letter in return? Letters even inspired songs: “Please Mr. Postman,” “Take a Letter, Maria,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” “Walking on Sunshine” — luscious tension is the core of each one. There aren’t any songs about email. Well, none that matter. (Here’s looking at you, Tila Tequila.)
Luscious tension results from waiting, and we’ve become far too impatient to wait for anything anymore. Anything slower than “instant” is infuriating.
(Umm, newspapers? Try not to read between the lines, lest you make the logical conclusion. Go play a nice game of gin rummy with U.S. mail and Pony Express. They’re lonely.)
While I’m nostalgic about those letters from grandparents, aunts and cousins, I must confess: I’d much rather communicate by email. Particularly if the other option is the phone. Answering the phone is like being ambushed. I’m sucked into a tractor beam of unwanted conversation, and then it starts to feel like Double Dutch jump rope. I’m waiting for that exact moment to leap in and blurt out “Hey, I gotta pee, sorry, love ya, bye” just to escape. I’ve even resorted to ringing my own doorbell and talking to non-existent visitors just to end a phone call entrapment. That’s why I prefer email. I have all the control. I can end the conversation with a click.
That said, I do love my phone for texting, even though it’s rune my able tee 2 c typos, lol.
Yes, I’m email all the way. Letters? No. Writing with a pen is annoying. The only thing I write by hand anymore is checks to pay bills, and little by little, I’m switching them to online payment — all connected to my Cal.net account, by the way. Ditto for automatic subscription renewals, newsletters, business correspondence, clients and potential clients, inquiries, pay stubs, notices from my doctor — all Cal.net. And I can’t even count all the log-in user names linked to my Cal.net email.
So, two things: First, the sheer volume of things I will have to change if I lose my Cal.net email — from business cards to nearly every single thing I do online — could make me weep. Secondly, and vastly more important, stop and consider what you do on a daily basis via email. How many things arrive in your email box? How many times has your entire day, or life, spun around 180 degrees because of an email? Think of all the things you use email for. What’s it worth to you?
I already pay Cal.net $10 monthly, just for email, no Internet service, and without one peep of complaint. Would I pay more? You bet. As for Cal.net’s Internet service, the only people who want it are living in areas where there’s no other option. Yes, boys and girls, there are people out there in the rural badlands who still use dial-up, which is only slightly faster than a carrier pigeon. They don’t want dial-up, they have no other choice! As soon as they get cable access or DSL, they’ll ditch Cal.net like a hooker with herpes. And yet, this is what Cal.net is banking its financial future on — a service that will soon be about as in demand as an 8-track player.
That said, I’ll bet plenty of Cal.net’s customers (myself included) would pay to keep their trusty private email addresses and service. Yes, even more than we’re paying now. But some disagree, such as some guy who posts on Facebook as “Danger Will Robinson” because he’s too much of a spineless worm to use his real name. Based on his posts responding to my last column, I suspect he’s a Cal.net plant, and probably the genius who pushed for dumping email service. He attempted to shut me down by belittling my knowledge of the IT business, and the costs and complexities involved, and blabbity blah.
Wipe the Doritos crumbs onto the sleeve of your greasy Big Bang Theory T-shirt, Will, and pay attention: I understand business. And it’s this simple: People will pay for what they want. Period. We pay for cable, we pay for phone service, we pay for power, gas, bank accounts, movies. You know what I’ll pay for? Email that doesn’t bombard me with erroneous advertisements, that doesn’t glean my private interests and translate them into focused advertising on search engines and websites, that doesn’t require me to participate in the corporate data-mining machine, and that has a real live technician who doesn’t have a thick accent that I can call and talk to when I want.
“Free” email. What a ruse. Corporations don’t give anything away. They’re not bastions of altruism and generosity. You’re paying for that “free” Gmail in ways you can’t put a dollar value on: with your privacy. Google is watching you, aiming advertising at you, sculpting what you see online. Somewhere down the line, they’re making big bucks with all that “free” email, and somewhere, somehow, you’re paying for it.
Cal.net — you dummies! You want to cement your financial future? Start touting the value and appeal of “exclusive” private email, get your customers to consider what their email is worth and how much they’ll pay for it. If you’re banking your future on Internet service, well, you better stock up on some ointment for that thing on your lip.
— Email Debra DeAngelo at firstname.lastname@example.org; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com