What does your e-mail address say about you?

5 May

SocialTimes is covering AOL’s earnings (or lack thereof).  AOL LogoReally, coverage of AOL on a social media site?!  Social Media is Web 2.0 (or maybe 3.0) and AOL is 1.0 (or really some sort of beta version).  For me, AOL was the Internet before I discovered the Internet – before I knew that I could leave the walled garden and find all the cool social media and culture things that I post about on this blog.  (It was silly and very limited.  But, I do kind of wish that I still got to hear “Welcome.  You’ve got mail.”)

E-mail envelopeSince starting the new job, I’ve been reading a lot of business and marketing blogs.  Yesterday, I read one where the author talked about her impressions of an AOL e-mail address.  (I’m sorry, I forget the blog.  If it was yours, or you know whose it was, please post a link in the comments!  I hate not to give credit where it’s due.)  She said that she had recently purchased services from a person with an AOL e-mail address and had been very hesitant to do so.  Yes, that’s a judgy thing to say, but I agree.  Having an e-mail address that ends with @aol.com screams 1995 and implies that you aren’t conversant with new media trends and probably don’t know you’re way around the Internet too well.

Side story:  When I worked at Borders, we had to ask customers for their e-mail addresses so that we could look them up in our loyalty program.  Inevitably someone would say something like “BillysMom54” and then stop – no @, no whatever.com.  After a few weeks, I learned that everyone who did that was @aol.com and that a lot of them didn’t understand that there was any more to their e-mail address.

Gmail LogoRecently a good friend  told me that if I wanted to be taken seriously as someone who writes a social media culture blog, I needed to ditch my @ohio.edu e-mail address.  She correctly pointed out that it probably lead a lot of people to thinking that I was nineteen years old and that I had no business talking about anything in culture or social media, let alone the business uses thereof.  I picked @gmail.com for the new one because it seems the most reputable.

So here’s my question: What does your e-mail domain name say about you?  And, did I make the right choice with Gmail?


MaggieCakes is a blog about culture, social media, and what’s new in the world of Internet culture. Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about Internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. MaggieCakes is hosted by WordPress and often draws upon Slate, Jezebel, The Hair Pin, and SocialTimes for links and inspiration. My post Social Media and the Art of Storytelling was featured on Freshly Pressed, bringing a whole new readership to my blog. Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at 2maggieotoole@gmail.com.

12 Responses to “What does your e-mail address say about you?”

  1. Dacia May 6, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    I am a gmail person but wonder if there is something even better out there I should be using. I am interesred to see some of the responses to your blog. Maybe it can lead me to somewhere new. Thanks!

    • Maggie May 7, 2011 at 10:30 am #

      Me, too (about wanting to know if there’s something better). I was lazy (or just not thinking) when Gmail first came out. Even though I had it in Beta before the public release, I didn’t get firstnamelastname@gmail.com, so now I’m kind of wishing for something to come along and dethrone it so I can have firstnamelastname@new.com.

  2. skippingstones May 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    Very interesting! One more thing (our personal image) being dragged into the digital age, LOL. But it’s true. I take email addresses at my job, and I wonder about people when I see what they write. I rarely see AOL anymore, and @yahoo.com seems to be going the same direction. I see more gmail than anything else. And I do sometimes make snap judgements: work email, school email, old person, @what-on-earth-is-that.com, oh-gmail-I see-that-you’re-an-up-to-date-person. I think it’s just human nature to compare and contrast other people against each other and ourselves.

    I occasionally miss my AOL account, but it’s more of a homey feeling that it gave me (“You’ve got mail”) and maybe because it was my first introduction to the internet – “the Internet before I discovered the Internet,” as you said.

    • Maggie May 7, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      I agree about Yahoo going the same way as AOL. I guess that’s kind of strange, though. Yahoo was one of the first ones that you have to actively sign up for — that didn’t come free with your Internet access. So, for a while it was only for people who were engaged/active/knew what they were doing on the web. But, that’s not really how it’s seen anymore.

  3. Georgette Sullins May 6, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    Call me sentimental. I like my @aol, or extravagantly stupid because I’m paying for it.

    • Maggie May 7, 2011 at 10:33 am #

      Hey, as long as you recognize that you have the option not to pay for it, it’s all good. It just strikes me that a lot of people might not realize that they can ditch AOL and get to the larger free(ish) world of the Internet. By the way, what do you like about AOL that’s made you stay (aside from the nostalgia)? Do they have good content or block ads for you?

      • georgettesullins May 7, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

        I love the format of the page and articles. Also, I’m glad folks can find me over the years. I figure it’s worth the investment, kind of like keeping the same address or phone number for a decade or two. It simplifies things. But I remember once I appeared among the “lost” on a high school list, which confounded me since I’d kept the same address, phone numbers and e-mail.

  4. stevesw May 8, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    I agree that AOL screams ‘old.’ I have three personal email addresses. Gmail is my primary contact address and I receive it on my smart phone. I also like the ease of adding pics to the email, vice attachments. My Cox address is a hold over and I use it for those contacts that did not make it to my Gmail and new contacts I do not want pinging my phone. I still use AOL for ‘provide your email address’ and any place I will get spam and possible viruses from. And the worst thing about AOL is the poor virus protection.

  5. Bethan May 13, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    I’ve heard that a new trend is for parents to make a gmail address for their yet-to-be-born children as soon as they pick the name. I’ve also heard of people picking names before even becoming parents so that they can reserve a gmail account for their future children. And of course now the new conundrum amongst my engaged and professionally oriented female friends: how can I change my name when my maiden name has become my professional name via gmail? (And the issue is compounded when the new name isn’t available!)

    Gmail simply denotes one’s wherewithall of the digital age. Though people may prefer AOL for nostalgic reasons, the notion exists that those who know what’s really going on with the internet world will get over that and assimilate themselves so they can fully participate. Should another provider come along that is deemed by the masses to be better than google, I imagine everyone will migrate over.

    Practically, gmail provides access to a plethora of other useful (and I think sometimes necessary to survival) functions, namely GoogleDocs filesharing and collaboration. Nothing is more annoying than sending a colleague a file or a request to collaborate and them having no idea what to do. Thus @gmail.com indicates to me how proficient and efficient a person is in using the internet to its fullest. Between facebook, linked in, and every other site where a person can list their current address and generally be contacted outside of email, I don’t think the transition is difficult at all.

    All that being said I absolutely hate gmail’s layout via browser – I use it solely through a mail client.

    • Maggie May 14, 2011 at 8:54 am #

      Wow that’s crazy about the babies. But, I do know of people who’ve taken Facebook.com/firstname.lastname soon after their kids were born, and claiming the Gmail address does seem to be more useful in the long run. In terms of the engagements and name changes, maybe it’s possible to link two Gmail addresses together so that one forwards to the other automatically. I think I remember hearing something about that a few years ago.

      Which mail client do you use Gmail though? I’ve been running it through a browser, because I like Gmail’s interface a lot better than Outlook. I’ve been thinking about trying it with Thunder Bird, but I don’t know if they play well together.

      • Bethan May 16, 2011 at 8:05 am #

        I use MacMail, which has its own issues but I like the ability to sync with the iPhone while keeping all my email accounts in one place (I’m not a fan of forwarding). Try Thunderbird, you’ll probably like it better than Outlook.

      • Maggie May 16, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

        Well, anything’s better than Outlook. I’ll give it a try. Thanks!

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