Monday, August 25, 2008

The anthropology of email

So I'm selling some baby things on Craig's List, and I'm not kidding when I say that 75% of the responses I have gotten are from family email addresses. nickandjessica, cornbreadfamily, barack.n.michelle*, thebubbas, you get the idea. I realize that there is some selection bias at work since I am selling baby things, but still, it was a little overwhelming. And you know how easily I get overwhelmed.

It has never even occurred to us to have a family email address. First of all, who would be responsible for checking said family email? Me, that's who! Let's not kid ourselves. Second of all--well, there is no second of all. Wait, there is! Assuming there are no secrets in families, blah blah, or that most people with secrets would get their own email address (which is not to imply that all people with their own email have secrets)--how do you know who is reading your email TO the family address? What if it's not to the whole family but just to one of them, and then the other one reads it and marks it as "read" and the true recipient never reads it? Or what if you just want to plan a surprise party for your spouse? Do you send an evite from the family email?

So tell me, am I behind the times? Do you have a family email? Why did you get it? How does it work? Do you use it for all your personal email? What are the benefits? If you don't have one, what do you think of them? Tell me, I'm curious and I want to be cool so bad I can taste it.

*Barack and Michelle aren't really trying to buy my used cloth diapers. I made that up.

23 comments:

Kristen M. said...

I have some friends with the family email name but it always seems odd to me. The only thing I can figure is that the people with the family address don't actually do much on the internet like shopping for gifts or subscribing to all sorts of little newsletters. There's always something in my email that I know my husband would just chuck, thinking it was unimportant.

Jen Anderson said...

They're the ones who are behind the times. Not realizing that everyone should have their own account is what people do when they're setting up their first e-mail account.

It's disconcerting when I'm e-mailing my friend Karl and KarlandPeg@... Not that I'm going to say anything about her, but I feel like I should be addressing both of them even when replying to an email from just him.

But is it better or worse when the email looks like it belongs to one person, but the couple/family uses it. I got an email recently from my cousin with his wife's name as the From. I had to read it twice before I was sure who had written it.

ellen said...

I am solidly planted behind the times. I never thought about family email. If I did have one though, my husband could delete those annoying messages that tell me to forward something to "45 of my closest friends in the next 7 minutes, or there will be dire consequences of monumental proportions".

smalltownmom said...

Going back to the dark ages of dial-up, we have a family e-mail address but I'm the one who uses it. The kids have their own addresses. Hubby rarely e-mails at home. I also have an ultra secret address I use to mail my best friend when I want to complain about my husband, and another one for the blog.

Claire B. said...

We don't even use the same last name, so sharing an email address? Not gonna happen. Clearly your respondents don't get out much. Not that there's anything wrong with that. . .

MamaBird said...

lol, yes, I often hesitate when emailing the shared accounters. mostly i just make sure to title the email (ie DEAR SUZY) in a way I normally wouldn't. And you would think *they* would be more sensitive to signing their emails but sigh... not the case. I am the opposite extreme. I have tried (mightily unsuccessfully) to segment my email into 3 categories: personal, blog and craptastic from buying crap online. Plus another account just cause we have our family url. And another couple for yahoogroups. Ahem. Can you see I have a problem?

Vanessa said...

I have 4 email addresses of my own. Two of them I had before I met the SO. The SO and I have a "family" email which feels weird to say since we are not married. We gave it to a very few people and it's lumped in with the other email address on my Mac. (his too) Our deal is whoever marks something as read is the person who deals with it. We don't feel like any secrets are being kept, just a way to divide potential chores.

apathy lounge said...

No family e-mail. Each of us has our own.

wheelsonthebus said...

I am with Jen. That is SO 2002.

Jodi said...

Ewww....no, we all have our own email addresses. I have a couple of friends who have "family" addresses, not only that, but they are under the husband's name...weird.

PicaboMama said...

I am equally flummoxed by this phenomenon. I find that these folks are always slow to respond to messages too. My husband and I don't have any secrets, but I also don't want to slog through his sweepstakes e-mails and video game newsletters, UGH! Of course, we also have our own checking accounts (despite my unemployment), so maybe we are just separate accounts kind of folks. Maybe that's the secret to our fabulous fairytale marriage! I will immediately commence to writing my book of marriage advice.

All Adither said...

My friend and I were just discussing this. It seems so codependent to share an email address with your husband. But then, I'm someone who copies parts of her husband's ballot, so what do I know.

Shonda Little said...

I think the people who have the family email are the same ones who have the john -n- jane car tags. I'm sure the email address is more one's than the other. They just tie their entire identity into being a couple.

Misty said...

I'm not in to the family email thing... Nor am I into the personal email becoming the family email... I have one, hubby has one, daughter has one...

jen @ the cubicle's backporch said...

I remember stressing out about my e-mail address b/c I knew that it would be the one that I would send potential employers information from.

As for a family e-mail address, so far no one e-mails the dog, and Mr. C doesn't get any good e-mails (not that I, um, have a reason to know that. hee hee) My mom, however, has a family e-mail address for coaches to e-mail stuff to for my siblings and whatnot.

But I think e-mail is more of a personal thing.

But then again, I don't have kids yet and from what I hear, nothing is personal once you have kids! :)

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

My personal e-mail is actually a word made up of the names of my kids (it sounds good though). Nobody really thought about that these things were going to stick with us forever when e-mail first came out.

I also have a blog specific e-mail and a professional e-mail. Spend lots of time checking e-mail who?!

JCK said...

I have my own personal email. Family email? Pish Posh!

Tootsie Farklepants said...

Family email? Um, hell no. I can't even get my husband to write down a phone message for me. How can I trust him to relay an email that's meant for me?

And then there's my porn subscription....

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

My husband and I started a joint email when we got married...which we still have, but rarely use. Our individual addresses are what we rely on...and yet for some reason just can't delete the joint one. Strange :)

I'm over from Maggie's blog (Okay, Fine, Dammit). Happy to stumble on yours.

BarbaraCA said...

My best friend and her husband shared the same email for years. It made me nuts - planning her surprise party with him was that much harder, and she could not complain about him via email. It made no sense to me! Secrets keep a marriage together! :)

BZ said...

We had a joint email for our wedding, which in the + or - 6 months around our wedding I actually checked.

Now several years later (both after the wedding and the last time I checked the email), I still run across people who say that they tried to email me but the email didn't work.

hmmm...really? Let me give refer you to MY email.

Mary Alice said...

We have a family e-mail account.....we also have a family bank account. And we never get confused with either one of them. That said we do each have e-mail accounts that are specifically used for college related correspondence....otherwise all "friend and family" e-mails run through the family account. MM travels a lot so I am often the disseminator of information….likewise when I am out of town he takes care of correspondence.

Melissa said...

I think most (but not all) family emails are set up by people who don't know enough about computers to understand that it's possible to have more than one email address per account/household.