Jun 18, 2007
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By Anne Holland, Content Director
My 23-year-old stepson is driving me crazy. He's a lovely young man, wonderful in every possible way except for one. He never-ever checks his email.
Why would I care? Well, sometimes I send him things to print out for his father, who doesn't even have an email account, let alone a computer. Then, when I get home at night and say, "Did you print out that thing for your dad?" he says, "Huh?"
Then he reminds me, "Anne, you know I never check email."
Why would a young man, who is so much a part of the Internet generation that he does university homework at night "with" his friends via live webcam, never check his email account?
Apparently, email is old fashioned. Email is used only by ancient people over 40. Turns out being a card-carrying member of Generation X can only get you so far in understanding the Internet these days. Generation Y has new rules.
So, what has replaced email? For kids, apparently it's still text messaging … but by "kids" I mean true children. For anyone over a certain age of consent, texting is apparently no longer cool unless you're stuck somewhere unbearably boring (such as a nine-hour car ride to Yosemite with your family) and there's nothing else to do.
Instead, according to my college-age kids at least, for Generation Y, communication is all about MySpace and Facebook. So, instead of saying, "Email me" a Gen Y might say, "MySpace me." And, in fact, that's just what my son does. MySpace is now a verb for him and his peers, replacing "email" and/or "text message."
Alternatively, if you yourself are a college student in the US and you meet another student you'd like to get to know, you no longer ask for his or her phone number. "What's your Facebook?" you ask instead.
What does this mean for marketing? Well, it may betray an entire generation's lessening of broadcast-to-one email messaging availability. In a world where there are zillions more ways to reach people than ever before, the generation just now entering adulthood is retreating behind newly built walls.
So, don't phone them, don’t email them, don't text message them. Instead, look them up via search and post a personal note on their blog or MySpace account. Maybe they'll consider getting back to you if it's good enough.