Is ‘I Didn’t Check My Email’ a Valid Excuse?


Janani Ravikumar
Staff Writer

With the rise of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, people tend to ignore the arguably outdated, less flashy, and more boring email. As a result, some people don’t check their emails nearly as often as they should. Unfortunately, I am one of these people. People come to me, telling me they sent me an email and asking why I never responded to it. The embarrassing part is that time and time again, I’ve lamely responded to such accusations with: “Sorry, I didn’t check my email.” And, each and every time, “I didn’t check my email” isn’t a valid enough excuse. Sometimes, I even get the response: “You’re on your laptop and phone all the time. How could you not check your email?”

There was a time when having an email address was one of the coolest things ever. If you wanted to sign up for anything – Amazon, EBay, iTunes, Neopets, Club Penguin – you needed an email address. Email was our primary means of communication, and large groups of people could easily keep in touch by just sending a single email to each of their friends at once. Much like Facebook’s messaging system, only a bit slower. Remember those annoying chain mails that said you were going to die if you didn’t forward them to a certain number of people? Those wouldn’t exist without email either. Before long, sending emails became equivalent to physically writing and mailing letters to others, though you could also be rather informal in your emails if you so desired. It even had a nice little chat feature – long conversations in chat rooms with friends, oftentimes with each person taking on a different text color and font, provided legendary levels of fun. And if you had more than one email address, and on different sites at that, then even better.

However, thanks to an entity known as Facebook, all that has ended. With Facebook, people can communicate much more quickly and much more informally than they could in emails. It became less about communication and correspondence, though Facebook certainly provides the means, and more about broadcasting our lives to the world. And because all our friends are on Facebook anyway, we gradually stopped checking our emails because if we were to get anything from our friends, it wouldn’t come through email. Facebook became “cool” in the way email once was, and many college students, myself included, are guilty of neglecting their emails as a result. In a way, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are like the latest fashion trends – everyone buys similar clothes and shoes and jewelry because it’s “cool” for now, completely ignoring old trends they once so strictly followed as their old clothes slowly make their way to the back of the closet.

But here’s the problem – not everyone is on Facebook, and we can’t communicate with everyone that way. Our teachers, professors, and TAs are much easier to contact via email than through Facebook. We all needed an email address to sign up for Facebook in the first place, so everyone has one, right? But because professors primarily use email to contact us, their notices and messages oftentimes go completely ignored, or at least read much, much later, because college students no longer check their emails periodically. And, in extreme cases, students can even fall behind in class because of a few missed emails. Since we can’t expect everyone we know to be on Facebook, we should all at least check our emails periodically, because while it may not seem cool or flashy, email is a lot more practical and reliable than Facebook.