The MP who refuses to use email
A tabloid recently reported that a member of Parliament rejects modern forms of communication, by refusing to accept email from his constituents. Instead, the MP insists that contact is made by letter, fax or phone. He is the only one, out of 650 MPs, who is taking this outmoded approach.
This news story led to much discussion amongst the eve team, about how we prefer to communicate. A colleague in her mid-thirties reflected on the fact that she was from the last generation to remember life before the internet. Others are perplexed by the postal system and a teenage intern had never heard of fax before.
What’s a fax?
It shouldn’t be taken for granted that everyone knows what a fax is, so here’s the lowdown. Short for facsimile machine, a fax is a device that can send or receive pictures and text over a telephone line.
Faxing definitely earned its place in tech history. It rose in popularity in the 1980s, transforming the speed of business transactions. For the first time ever, organisations could transfer documentation to the other side of the world in an instant.
With her iPhone XS clutched in her hand, our intern talked about how she can send video snaps and voice-memos to her friends in an instant. The idea of this clunky, noisy machine was hard to grasp.
When did email become mainstream?
Email had already been invented when fax was launched; its invention is universally credited to Ray Tomlinson who created email as part of a program for ARPANET, the forerunner of the internet, in 1971.
Adoption of email followed much later when internet access became more accessible to the masses. In the early nineties we saw ISPs like AOL, FreeServe and BlueYonder (now Virgin) arrive on the scene, which meant people could connect. Soon after, Hotmail made its entrance.
The internet, a public service
Fast forward to present day and the Office for National Statistics tells us that in 2019, within the UK, 91% of all adults had recently used the internet, with almost all adults aged 16 to 44 years (99%) being recent internet users. The study is ran annually, allowing us to track changing trends. While there has been little change for adults aged 16 to 44 years in recent years, there has continued to be growth in internet use among older adults.
These statistics are hardly surprising; the internet is intrinsic to our daily lives. Usage exploded in the nineties and it’s showing no sign of slowing. The internet provides us with knowledge and information. From education to digital marketing, shopping, remote working and for simply communicating – it’s a utility which underpins the way most of us live and work.
We aren’t here to diss fax or post, we’re here to promote choice and to fly the flag for technology. There is still a place for fax and post in some industries, particularly those which are regulated. Plus, cloud faxing is now a thing, so you don’t need to dust off a dusty bit of kit when you want to transmit a message the old school way. It should be an option for some, but not at the expense of modern methods.
Statista estimates that around 94% of adults own a mobile. As most of us are constantly glued to our smart phones, we have used them to develop new ways of communicating. Instant messaging, video, voice memos and document collaboration are now the norm and feel more natural, in comparison to conventional communication methods.
Collaboration tools with sleek, aesthetically appealing chat interfaces are accessible and allow us to communicate in an instant, from wherever we are. We can send a message while jogging on a treadmill, or from a plane through inflight WiFi. Even email is seen as outdated today.
If you want to make communication easy, whether it’s with your customers, colleagues or even constituents, embrace modern solutions and be accessible.
Office for National Statistics