Email as the ultimate instant messenger

Email is the ultimate instant messenger.

This might seem like a controversial take but I'm quite sincere. In my long history on the internet I've come to the realization that email is, by far, the best instant messenger client out there, and will outlast all of the existing technologies out there (with the only exception of IRC, and yes, I have seen that xkcd so please don't send it to me).

"But Craig", I hear notional you say, "(blah blah) is so much better. All my friends are on (blah blah) and ..."

Let me stop you there, notional you. I heard this with Google Hangouts, Google Talk, AOL Instant Messenger, and ICQ. They're all gone. All of them. The only one that remains? Email. (and IRC, but this isn't about IRC).

Also, all of your friends have an email account, even if they "stopped checking it" in 2015. That's not an email problem, that's a habit problem.

"But Craig", I again hear notional you say, "my email inbox is a trash fire hiding in a dumpster fire. How can email even compete in this environment?"

Ah, so the real problem isn't email but in how you use it. The secret is that you can do two things that you haven't learned to do with email:

  1. Archive it
  2. Delete it

Seriously, I've seen your inbox. There's no reason that flier from that restaurant that closed in 2019 is still in there. Delete it. I promise you they're not coming back. And that email forward from your great aunt of those cute dogs can exist as easily in your archive folder as it does in your inbox.

So go on: archive and delete the crap and get in the habit of doing this every single day.

You should be looking at an empty inbox, or the reasonable equivalent thereof.

Now, when someone emails you then you can choose into responding to it, just like instant messenger. And I guarantee you that it will be just as quick as if you were using whatever dingus thing you were using before.

Which also means, friends and family willing, you can get rid of all of those chat programs on your phone.

Oh, and email? Doesn't usually require you to use your phone number. Y'know, the thing that everyone seems to want now because of all of the tasty data associated with it.

Now, I know some of you prefer to have apps or programs for handling your chat. I've got you covered. There's Delta Chat, which treats your email like a chat program. Plus it can use that fancy encryption but without the centralized server and the pinky-swear that it's end-to-end encrypted.

"But I rarely check my email" notional you keeps protesting. Bullshit. I've seen some of you. Your phone is out faster than that email can even be written to disk.

So try it. Take the "my chat program is email" challenge for September. Try it with your family. Pretty soon you'll forget whats-his-app and telegraph or whatever the kids use these days.

Email. It's the ultimate instant messenger. Accept no substitutes.