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Email? Generation Z doesn't use it, and doesn't want it

The other day, I told my teenager that somebody we know had sent her an email. "What? Email? I never check email," she said. "People still use it?" Um, yes.

It dawned on me that I might as well have told her to check her Myspace account or Facebook page. Her generation uses neither, and scoffs at both. But email is the work tool of the masses that is still widely used in the business world. Isn't it? Yes, at least until my child's generation arrives in the workplace en masse in the next few years.

"Can't they just text it to me instead?" she asked. "I never check email. I mean, I know you do, Mom..."


I told her that she really needs to check her email this one time, because that message is waiting for a response that may be already running almost a day late. "Okay," she said. "I'll go figure it out. I never check email."

Email Is For Old People
I assumed that I was the only parent having this discussion about email use, but then I came across an article in Fast Company about how Generation Z doesn't "do" email. They just can't be bothered with it. It's too slow, it feels too remote. There's also the annoying delay in reply that makes conversations feel awkward and stilted. Who has the time to wait?

Now that Gen Z is entering the workplace (the oldest Gen Zers are 23 years old), they are not sold on the power of email as a work tool, and -- newsflash! -- they probably never will be:

According to them [Gen Z], even email is an outmoded method of communication reserved for school assignments and not much else. My youngest employees treat email the way that I looked at the fax machine when I got my first real job: a relic from a bygone era, and an absolute last resort if efficient communication is the goal.

The young generation, of course, prefers to communicate via GIFs, emojis, video and photos. They love their memes, too. They have a keen eye for visual detail. They will tell you exactly how a digital picture should look. In fact, they are very opinionated about internet visuals. If you can't connect with them through visuals, then you will lose them. Check out this Gen Z kid using his critical e-ye to critique somebody's business web page.

Why Do You Still Use Email?
Gen Zers do not understand why older generations still use email. It's the long haul trucker in a supersonic world. Why bother? Here's the conversation that is beginning to take place between new Gen Z hires and their Millennial trainers all over the country:

Millennial: Let's set up your email account.
Gen Z: What?
Millennial: We need to set you up with a company email account.
Gen Z: Yeah, I don't need that, but thanks, anyway.
Millennials: Well no, you do. It's what we use here. I mean, we use IM, text and Facebook, but email is still very important.
Gen Z: Okay. Wait, you said Facebook? I don't use Facebook, either. Never have.
Millennial: Well, you're going to need to create a Facebook account then.
Gen Z: M'kay [chuckles]. My mom uses Facebook...
Millennial: No, really! You need Facebook and email! And Slack!
Gen Z: Can't you just throw it all on an app? I mostly use Apple emojis.
Millennial: NO! [shakes fist at sky while Gen Xer laughs in background]

Millennials, this large dose of email ennui is heading your way. Brace yourselves. Change is hard, and getting older is even harder. There's no app for that, unfortunately.


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