Advantages & Disadvantages of Email Over Traditional Post Offices

by Benjamin Aries
107 trillion e-mails were sent in 2010.

107 trillion e-mails were sent in 2010.

In 2010, 107 trillion e-mail messages were sent over the Internet. In comparison, around 160 billion pieces of mail are processed each year by the U.S. Postal Service. The widespread use of e-mail is due to several advantages, including speed and low cost. Although they are extremely common, e-mail messages do have a few disadvantages, and the traditional post office is useful even in the 21st century.

Speed

One of the primary advantages of e-mail is speed. While an electronic message can literally travel at the speed of light, a traditional post office letter may take days or even weeks to reach its destination. The instant nature of e-mail can be a key benefit for businesses, who can collaborate and share information rapidly. The speed of e-mail can also be a disadvantage, however. Because e-mails can be dispatched with just a few clicks, they are used far more often than their traditional paper counterparts. If a large number of e-mails fill the inbox too quickly, users can become overwhelmed or distracted by the volume of messages. It can be time consuming to sort through a vast number of irrelevant e-mails all quickly sent to one recipient.

Cost

E-mail is an extremely inexpensive system compared to a normal post office. Once a computer has been connected to the Internet, there is virtually no cost needed to send electronic messages. The cost savings of e-mail are particularly valuable to businesses, who may send hundreds or even thousands of messages each day. If traditional letters is used instead, the cost of postage and supplies is significant. Low-cost messages do have one major drawback: spam. Marketers or even fraudsters can send e-mails without being limited by postage prices. This leads to a high number of unwanted spam messages that must be filtered and deleted by the recipient. The time and resources spent dealing with spam can impact the productivity of individuals and businesses.

Attention

E-mail messages are generally less personal or important than letters sent through the post office. This has both advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, impersonal and disposable e-mails mean that users do not feel an obligation to reply to each message. People can focus their attention on only the most relevant e-mails, and delete any unnecessary message. On the other hand, personalized letters sent through the post office often receive a level of attention that e-mails lack. The lack of a personal touch in an e-mail could lead to a recipient missing important details or ignoring the message completely. A traditional letter can be a good way to stand out from the crowd and have a message noticed.

Format

E-mails typically have an informal format, and are well suited for brief to-the-point correspondence. This can be a great benefit for people who want to collaborate or chat in an unconstrained environment. The informal nature of e-mail can also be a disadvantage. Important documents such as legally-binding contracts typically must be sent through a traditional post office. This method is seen as more formal and trustworthy, while e-mail messages are limited to routine communication.

About the Author

Benjamin Aries has been involved in digital media for much of his life and began writing professionally in 2009. He has lived in several different states and countries, and currently writes while exploring different parts of the world. Aries specializes in technical subjects. He attended Florida State University.

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