Just E-Mail Dad

Generation Z EmailFor all of the ubiquity that email offers us in the workplace, at home, in commerce and purchasing – I’ve come to realize for my kids (and I would suspect others in Generation Z) email is a necessity simply to register for apps and other things – and not a means of communication.  When a message needs to be delivered, my girls just leave it with a simple, “just email dad” when it comes time for them to give out their email address.

I first realized this when 12.5’s softball coach asked for her email so she could get team updates directly.  She politely but directly told her coach, “Just email dad, I have the girls on the team on group chat.”  The use case was re-emphasized this week when 15.0’s soccer coach started sending out updates for summer workouts.  They come straight to me, her email is not even on the distribution.

For those of us in the semi-modern workplace, email management is almost part of the job.  For me and most of my co-workers, a day with 100 or more work emails is the norm.  Add to that personal emails account(s) and I can easily deal with more than 500 emails a day.

The reality is most of them are either deleted before looking at them, or deleted after a quick look at the subject line only – but that is the way email management works.  For Gen Z though, it’s just not the case.  The most relevant statistics I could find are from 2012 – and I would suspect the trend that showed three years ago continues:

  • Of 1000 people from eight to 17 only half said they use email on a daily basis as a means to communicate – trailing talking, texting and social networks.
  • When looking at a sub class of that 1000 asked in the age group of 13-17 email usage falls to under 25%.
  • 25% of that 1000 say they check messages (text, email and social media) within the first five minutes of waking up.  More than half (52%) say they have checked within the first hour of being away.
  • The 13-17 year old sub class of that group has already sent more than 50 text messages or social network updates in that time.  Total email messages sent is fewer than 10.

In a business sense, this means connecting with this generation – which the same study says has “desirable and disposable” income means changing up from the new traditional marketing (email) to a new paradigm of social marketing and leveraging channels like Snap Chat and other emerging platforms.

In a practical sense though, if you want to get hold of my kids and don’t know how to text them, “just email dad”  apparently I deliver messages more efficiently than the post office.

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Remembering and Letting Go

CandlesOn this Yom Kippur morning (yeah, no comments about my posting on Yom Kippur OK?) it’s a chance to think about moments and people.  In this week that includes September 11, there has been a lot of that going on.  Remembering and letting go, two distinct concepts tied together.

On 9/11 as I was thinking about friends and colleagues taken that day in the terror attack I was flipping through my phone and realized their names and numbers were still in there.  In some cases email addresses were there too.  Obviously, I’m not calling or texting.



I can’t remember what phone I was carrying in 2001, but I am pretty sure I had to actively put their names and numbers into at least one if not two phones since that day.  A moment to remember friends without letting them go.  Their entries in my address book really are out of sight out of mind most of the year.

Then I realized on my Facebook are two friends who passed away over the years.  Their profiles still there, not deleted.  I’m not putting messages on their walls but they are there.  Another chance to remember without letting go.  Again, mostly out of sight and out mind, not in the way.

Even in my house, there are items tucked away-out of sight and out of mind, but still there and present from time-to-time.  Remembering and letting go.  Part of life sure, but also a part of us.

So the candles we lit last night for Risa, my father, my brother, Risa’s father and all those we have lost flicker on this Yom Kippur.  We remember, let go and do not forget.

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In the world of single parenting-speaking broadly you can categorize single parents into two groups: widows and divorce/separated.  There is far more nuance than this I know but at a high level there is a dividing line.  The groups can then get further sub-divided.

These Hallmark made holidays like Mother’s Day for me and my crew (the same can be said for some friends about Father’s Day) pose a unique set of challenges.  Frankly it’s not an overly easy day (or week given the in-school emphasis) to get through.

This year in school, 9.5 had a little bit of an issue that I instructed the school was not an issue and they could deal with themselves and to leave my daughter alone.  That being said, there still is the day to manage.

Last year (our first motherless Mother’s Day), I intentionally ignored the day.  I kept the girls busy throughout the day, we did a bunch of cool stuff and I let the day pass with hardly a mention of Mother’s Day.  I was pretty sure that strategy would not work again this year, and then with the call from school added in I needed to regroup.

After some thought and hearing from others who are widowed, I decided the balloon-a-gram approach.  I talked to the girls on Thursday about getting some balloons and writing notes to mommy.  We’d then tie the notes to the balloons and set them free.

So, this morning we did just that.  The rule was you could share the note or not, it was completely up to the author.  I offered up my note to both girls.  Only 9.5 read it.  11.5 declined the invitation.  Neither girl officially showed me their note.  However, more than 15 years as a working journalist, one of the skills I mastered was reading upside down.

I tried not to be obvious and to respect the privacy of the girls.  But I did want to watch for any signs of other issues I had to deal with.  Happily there are none that I saw from the notes.  What did strike me is that both girls made reference to heaven near the top of their notes.

This is not something they would get from me.  I am fine with the thought process, I never want to invoke my thoughts on religion and spirituality upon them.  Each of us told Risa that we’re doing OK and we missed her lots.  11.5 in a much longer note also wrote that she was happy that any suffering she was doing ended.

With some welled up tears away went the balloons.  9.5 even taped a piece of chocolate to hers.

And so, balloon-a-grams away-and into a non-Hallmark Sunday we go.

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