I use them daily to communicate effectively and efficiently. But I'm careful to ensure that every email I send is completely justified. Because unnecessary emails - like unnecessary meetings, whether they be face-to-face, or more likely nowadays, via Teams or Zoom - drive me absolutely bananas.
And did you know that emails are actually harming the planet?
The average spam email has a footprint equivalent to 0.3g of Carbon Dioxide emissions (CO2e), while a normal email has a footprint of 4g. These figures are arrived at by taking into account the power that data centres and computers use sending, filtering and reading messages. An email with a large attachment can have a carbon footprint of 50g CO2e.
It's estimated that a typical year of incoming email adds 136kg of emissions to a person's carbon footprint. That's the equivalent of driving 200 miles in an average car. According to research, more than 64 million "unnecessary emails" are sent every day in the UK, contributing to 23,475 tons of carbon a year to its footprint.
Emails have been around a lot longer than many people realise. They're not a product of the internet, either. The first example of what could legitimately be called a piece of electronic mail can be found on computers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a program called "MAILBOX," in 1965.
Users left messages with that program on other computers at the university, and the recipient would see them when they next logged on.
Three years later the US Department of Defense implemented a network called ARPANET, connecting a number of its computers, enabling them to communicate with each other, and the first message was sent on 29 October 1969.
In 1971 Ray Tomlinson invented email as we know it today, by creating a full system on ARPANET's network. As the growing internal networks meant protocols for sending messages were becoming increasingly more complex, one important question arose: how to show where the message was intended to go?
His answer: @. Indicating a destination for a message became as simple as addressing it "username@name of computer," which is how we've been addressing emails ever since.
The next step was to develop how email could communicate beyond ARPANET's network, between separate organisations, which, I suppose we could say, was the birth of the fledgling Internet itself.
By the 1980s, in the infancy of the Internet, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) had begun connecting people across the world, and email "hosting" sites were becoming popular.
I didn't start using email, either for business or at a personal level, until 2001, so I guess you could say that was the start of my email space odyssey.
To conclude: now, in 2020, it's forecast by statistics specialists Statista, that more than 306-billion emails will be sent globally EVERY DAY this year. Each one chipping away at the safety of our environment. And many of them will be overkill, information overload, and just downright unnecessary.