Facebook is the reason I no longer have anyone’s email address!

Walled Gardens on the Internet are dangerous. Anyone that used the Internet before 2000 with the likes of AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy can surely remember the days when users of one of those particular services could only email and chat with each other. Where content created on one service could not be viewed by users of another service. If an AOL user wanted to email or chat with a Prodigy user you were out of luck. The Internet changed all of that.

The Internet originally was a Department of Defense Construct designed to create a network of computers that could survive a nuclear war. It was a decentralized military network whose usage grew over the years and eventually connected universities, companies and countries to each other. It was a network of networks. It provided standards known as RFCs and protocols that governed how everyone was supposed to exchange information. It was great — no longer would content or communication be “walled off” and only available to those in your immediate network. Information and communication was supposed to flow freely.

So What The Fuck Happened? Why don’t I have anyone’s email address anymore? Email (SMTP) is a core Internet Messaging Protocol that has existed for decades. Like a phone number an Email Address is universal and a resource locator (URL, duh). If I have your Email Address I can always reach you regardless of who actually provides you Email functionality whether it is Google, Yahoo or Fastmail. These individual networks don’t preclude us from easily communicating with each other. So again, why don’t I have anyone’s email address? Let’s postulate:

I don’t have your email because I’m using Facebook to communicate with you.

And there it is. At some point I probably decided it was easier to just communicate via Facebook, standards be damned. I Should Know Better. If I am on Facebook and I need to talk to someone who is not on Facebook I can’t. I would either have to switch to another method of communication (Email) or I would have to join the service that this other person is using.

The only reason we are probably preferring Facebook right now to Email is that it is super-convenient. Most people I interact with in my personal life are on Facebook. So what happens when that ceases to be true? Did we all just suddenly forget about MySpace and Friendster? There was probably a time where you thought you’d never stop using those services either and everyone you knew was on them.

This is madness! We are literally right back where we started twenty years ago! Fuck that, I was going to add more to this rant but rather than keep typing I’m just going to bug all my contacts for their Email Addresses and stop communicating so much through Facebook.

That said — what about all those other walled gardens?

  • Social Networks: Facebook, Myspace, Google+, Snapchat, Instagram
  • Messaging Applications: WhatsApp, Hangouts, Viber, Yahoo Messenger
  • Application Stores: Google Play, iTunes, Mac App Store


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