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Does Email Need Fixing, or Do You Just Need to Learn How to Use Email?

Lawrence at Just Use Email recently posted a lengthy article about Hey Email where he takes apart their marketing of the service's features. This line in particular resonated with me:

This always happens when someone tries to make an “email killer” app: they create what works for them and then try to charge everyone money for it. Trust me: it’s better to learn how to just use email and then create your own workflows and rules to make it work for you.

I got a feeling of déjà vu reading through this article, as I recalled the other 'fixes' I've tried over the years: Gmail's smart Inbox, SaneBox, Airmail and more. I eventually abandoned each and every one, partly because they created more problems for me than they were supposedly solving, but mainly because I realised that they were trying to fix problems I didn't actually have.

Perhaps it's because I've been online now for over three decades, and using email in one form or another for almost as long. Perhaps it's due to my autism and aversion to being overwhelmed. I certainly wasn't taught how to use email, I just figured it out for myself. And it definitely wasn't the case that email was somehow simpler back when I first got online — the basics have remained pretty much the same for ages.

I wonder what changed to make so many people consider email 'broken'? I suspect that the answer is that they just haven't been shown how to use email in their work or home life, instead being left to figure it out for themselves. Combine that lack of knowledge across several billion people, add in abuses like spam and phishing, and the frustration levels rise.

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