In Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (yes, I saw it and am not afraid to admit it), America Ferrera's character Carmen, long the thread (pun intended) that held the four friends together, becomes exasperated over her foursome's inability to communicate over distances. When they cite email as being the way they connect, and don't connect — Blake Lively's character Serena — er, Bridget — says, "It's not my fault I have a lame server!" (Oh you went there, Bridget, really?!).
Carmen retorts, "Email, you guys? Really? That's lame," and as the characters hung their heads guiltily, I did too. To see why I think email hurts friendships, just read more.
I generally operate under the notion that email has helped me stay in touch with my friends, which sure, it may have — but if I didn't have email, would I not be communicating with this friend at all, as I reassure myself, or would I be picking up the phone and hearing their voice?
While email gives you another opportunity to get in touch, you tend to begin to only email that person, and even then, despite its ease that tends to drop off too. Of course, many friendships naturally face expiration, but email is pretty much the least committal form of communication.
In an email, we have time to compose and project the most sanitized version of events in our lives — having voice-on-voice communication adds a more personal element — how many times have you said, "I missed hearing your voice" or, "It's so good to hear your voice?" I doubt anyone has ever said they missed seeing your typed words.
On the phone (or in person, even better), you might say everything's fine, but your tone might convey something else, which a friend may pick up on. In an email that's that. There's no organic back and forth. And I know that those gloriously exalted letters of old, of pen and paper, also consist of written word, lacking tone — but let's not kid ourselves, guys; emails will never be letters.
Don't get me wrong! I love email; I love having it as an option and I communicate via email all day every day, but for those you love and who love you — it should be a supplement for talking to your loved ones, not your main form. Which I think was Carmen's point. Whether or not pants were involved.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.