Email address like a license to cruise the internet
Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. The tools entrenched in the digital world, whether they are devices such as smartphones and tablets, or services like online banking and social networking, are supposed to empower you to get the job done faster and more efficiently so that you have more time for important things in your life in the real world.
Unfortunately technology has a PR challenge as it is often viewed, and even dismissed by certain demographics, as confusing and intimidating. This public perception, when applied to any and all technology regardless of merit, can be misleading. It can prohibit people from embracing specific technology that has concrete benefits if applied and even worse it can subliminally erode one’s confidence when relating with technology in general.
I remember how I felt when I passed my driver’s license exam. I fondly recall how happy I was to finally drive without a chaperone. What I didn’t expect were the other benefits provided by a driver’s license beyond just the privilege to drive. For example state-issued driver’s licenses or even identification cards can provide proof of identity when applying for a library card, opening an utility account such as natural gas or electricity to your new abode, going through security checkpoints at the airport, cashing checks and provide other auxiliary benefits. Not to sound too melodramatic but it really was, for an 18-year-old, a confidence-inspiring piece of laminated card in my wallet.
In the digital world your email address is analogous to the utility provided by a driver’s license in the real world. Not only can you send and receive messages – which is the primary use of your email address, just like privilege to drive being the primary use of a driver’s license – an email address enables you to open and utilize other services in the digital world. For example social networking and social media services like Facebook and Twitter, video chat services like Skype and Hangouts, online shopping storefronts like Amazon, video streaming services like Netflix, and many other services require you to have an email address when opening an account with them.
Email is technology-driven thus it has the same public perception of being confusing and intimidating. Over the years I’ve found that for the uninitiated, looking beyond the one-time event of creating your email address and reaping the benefits of having an email address can bring down the intimidation barrier while building up the confidence to deal with email, or even technology in general.
Our libraries in Westlake and Bay Village can help you to set up an email account if you’re intimidated by the process. (Some basic computer knowledge is usually required, like how to use a mouse.) Westlake Porter Public Library and the Cuyahoga County Public Library system also offer occasional classes to learn the powers hidden in a simple email address.
Understanding the benefits of owning an email address, just like owning a driver’s license, should help in building the confidence to embrace technology in a meaningful way. After all, no one should be intimidated by technology!
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DIGITAL WORLD
Suddenly my email account is sending out unsolicited messages to the people in my address book. Have I been hacked?
If you start getting calls from your friends and others in your address book that you are sending unsolicited email with advertisements and/or viruses and malware, change the password to your email account immediately! Depending on the severity, there are other measures you may need to take, including changing other passwords and checking your computer for viruses. In future issues we'll delve further into security tips.
Have a question for Tak about computers, software or other technology? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Business and technology strategist/consultant with 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.
As founder of geek with a heart consulting, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.