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20% of U.S. Population Has Never Used Email 279

Posted by timothy
from the not-necessarily-against-their-will dept.
Ezratrumpet writes "A recent PC World article notes that 20 percent of the U.S. population has never sent an email. Does this number over- or underestimate the actual number of people who know nothing of email? What are the implications of this statistic to our society? Or are these people just Luddites who mourned the demise of the telegraph and have also never used a telephone?"
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20% of U.S. Population Has Never Used Email

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  • by LoadWB (592248) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:13AM (#23451722) Journal
    So there are 20% of Americans who wonder why in the world Hormel would be sending canned ham to people, and still complain about the amount of junk mail they receive via the USPS.

    Amazing.
    • by nschubach (922175) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @01:13PM (#23454076) Journal
      My first thought was that there are probably 10-15% of the older generation in our society as well. I don't have the numbers, but you could probably conclude, based on the average age of death around 70, that 1/8th (12.5%) of the population is age 60-70+, 12.5% would be in the 50-59, etc. This would mean that the folks living to 80/90+ would factor in to the retired and enjoying their camping, fishing, knitting, and whatever else people do when they retire instead of sitting in front of a PC all day.
  • by RonnyJ (651856) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:14AM (#23451724)
    It's 18% of all households, not 20% of the US population.
    • by LoadWB (592248)
      Darnit, I am going to have to RTFA. I want to know if they send and receive text messages.
      • by DigitAl56K (805623) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:30AM (#23451810)

        Darnit, I am going to have to RTFA. I want to know if they send and receive text messages.
        HI I R NIGERIAN, I HAVE $200K, NEED UR BANK DETAILS FOR TRANSACTION, HURRY, U WILL B RICH!
        • by DigitAl56K (805623) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:59AM (#23452138)
          Just as a side: When I wrote this I did so in humor, but it does hold an element of interest. People who have never used e-mail are going to be far more susceptible to scams that those who have used e-mail have become well aware of and learned to ignore. The art will be in perpetrating them over forms such as SMS, which allows only short messages, successfully. I would say 1/5 people a reasonably large target population.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by hal2814 (725639)
            Yeah... You are aware that scams like this easily predate the invention of e-mail, right? Scams are scams. Even if you've never seen this particular one before, it's easy enough to spot from a mile away. Some people are going to fall for this kind of thing but I see no reason to believe that like email users before them and phone call/telegraph/letter recipients before them the vast majority of those 20%ers will spot the scam for what it is right off the bat.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by 1u3hr (530656)
            People who have never used e-mail are going to be far more susceptible to scams that those who have used e-mail have become well aware of ...

            See The Spanish Prisoner [wikipedia.org]. This scam is at least 100 years old.

            Twenty years ago our company used to get letters, (snail mail) from Nigeria, with exactly the sme pitches as they use now in email. A few years later they came by fax.

            The medium is new, the scams are not. It's true that we now get them much more frequently than when it was something we passed around

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Like2Byte (542992)

            People who have never used e-mail are going to be far more susceptible to scams that those who have used e-mail have become well aware of and learned to ignore.

            As much as I would like to agree with you, I simply can not. It's stands to reason that those made aware of the dangers (either by education, experience or cynicism ) would take safeguards to prevent theft via email scams; however, I personally know of someone who has been made aware of these scams (Nigerian 411 and others) on a continuing basis and

    • by ubuwalker31 (1009137) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @09:13AM (#23452492)
      According to http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats14.htm [internetworldstats.com] 71.4% of the entire US population uses the internet.

      Assuming that the 6.8% of the population is under 5 years old and doesn't use the internet, and assuming that the 12.4% of the population is over 65 doesn't use the internet, leaves about 9.4% of the population unaccounted for.

      Also, what about the 14 - 25 year old demographic who are using SMS rather than email?

      So, I guess what I am saying here is that if only 71.4% of the US has access to the internet, how is it possible that 18% of all households don't use email?
      • by rizzo420 (136707)
        My guess is that the 71.4% is in their homes. It's possible to use email without having internet access in your home. Many schools use in house email for their students and teachers to communicate. Many people have access in public libraries. And still others go to the homes of friends or family who have internet.

        Also, without surveying every single person, you will never get an exact number. I doubt either of the stats (from your link, which doesn't include Mexico in North America, or from the article
  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DigitAl56K (805623) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:17AM (#23451740)

    What are the implications of this statistic to our society?
    None. If people needed to use e-mail then they would use e-mail. The summary seems to imply that if you've never sent an e-mail there is something wrong with you or you fail at life. I can think of plenty of careers that don't even involve working with computers, and some people like to enjoy a more "disconnected" lifestyle.

    Or are these people just Luddites who mourned the demise of the telegraph and have also never used a telephone?
    I don't know, TFA doesn't seem to mention that. Why don't you accuse them of being illiterate freaks or something while you're at it?

    From TFA:

    "Many people just don't see a reason to use computers and do not associate technology with the needs and demands of their daily lives," Barrett said.
    Shocker.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by penix1 (722987)

      If people needed to use e-mail then they would use e-mail. The summary seems to imply that if you've never sent an e-mail there is something wrong with you or you fail at life. I can think of plenty of careers that don't even involve working with computers, and some people like to enjoy a more "disconnected" lifestyle.

      Absolutely! I do use technology and still won't use email unless I have no choice (for example, communication from some business that leaves no other option). There are far better ways to comm

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Better is a subjective term.

        Email is an excellent form for communicating with others where there is no need for instant response. That way the other parties can respond when they're ready to, and not when you demand it. In the workplace this means that they don't have to drop what they're doing to give you their attention, allowing them to continue focusing on their tasks.

        Most other forms of 'better' communication are great if you must have an immediate response, but the most common ones (face to face, phon
        • by penix1 (722987)
          Yes, "better" is subjective but given both the hassle of email spam / Bad Things(TM) and the fact that most home users (which is the subject group here) have a very limited set of contacts, email is the least useful of the list of possibilities. You are coming from this from a business perspective where I am coming from a home perspective. Even in a business perspective, I would rather deal with a business one-on-one real-time even if that means they tell me they will contact me later with my answer that th
          • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by cayenne8 (626475) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @10:29AM (#23452934) Homepage Journal
            "Yes, "better" is subjective but given both the hassle of email spam / Bad Things(TM) and the fact that most home users (which is the subject group here) have a very limited set of contacts, email is the least useful of the list of possibilities. You are coming from this from a business perspective where I am coming from a home perspective. Even in a business perspective, I would rather deal with a business one-on-one real-time even if that means they tell me they will contact me later with my answer that they don't know off hand in email. It is called "customer relations" in most circles. The point is, for me the spammers have won. I detest email to the point of only checking it when I know something is coming in."

            You are just like a friend of mine that seems to almost detest email...but, it isn't spam that drives him away. He keeps harping on that he'd rather make a phone call, etc. My other friends in our little group, all are like I am....and we prefer email. During the work day, phone calls can be heard by everyone else in 'cube land'. With email, no one around you knows your planning your weekend motorcycle trip rather than asking a java coding quesstion. And most often...you can only call one person at a time (Ok I know you can do multi-party calls, but, you have to do the dialing regiment and hope everyone is available that moment)....with email, and CC, you can hold conversations with the whole group.

            My friend gets pissed at times and says not to send so much email, but, then when we do that...he gets made when he gets left out of plans we make during the week for the weekends. It is a real PITA.

            I actually prefer email to IM (I've not used much, but, mostly due to workplaces I've been at do not allow it...security risks), and especially to phone calls. On the weekends, I hold email conversations with friends and family of mine all over the country. I do make a couple of calls with Mom and Dad....but, mostly email. Sometimes emails over the weekend are almost in real time...that much of it. But, the thing is...I can do it asynchronously and not have to stop my usual weekend things, like on Sundays...I have to do all my cleaning and cooking (and shopping) that day for the next week. I can be running all over the place...but, I have computers in the kitchen and all over the house, always on. I can do quick snippets on email and keep going. With a phone call...I have to STOP what I'm doing usually...for an extended period of time, and hold the phone and talk. In the evenings when I'm watching TV or a movie....I can email without really dropping my attention to the program, but, a phone call? I gotta put things on pause...or miss out on something if I let it run.

            So, basically...I'm the complete opposite of you....I really prefer email as my primary method of communicating.

            I also type quite fast...as do most of my friends that I email with. My friend that hates email, is a slow hunt and pecker....we're often hypothesized that maybe this is one major factor why he doesn't like email as much...to HIM...it takes too long and too much effort since he is a poor typist?

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Bombula (670389)
              I really prefer email as my primary method of communicating.

              Different things work for different people who work in different contexts. In my work, email is hopelessly slow and ineffective. I can't wait an hour or a day or a week to exchange information with someone. Very often, my entire workflow depends on getting the right piece of information - the answer to a question, a critical point of data, the name of a person who I need to get in touch with. If I rely solely on email, my workflow stops until

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Jimmy King (828214)

          As to TFA... I didn't read it, but there doesn't seem to be anything abnormal or surprising that some people haven't used email. I never learned to drive a car. Does that make me abnormal?

          It depends on where you are, but here in America, yes, that makes you abnormal. If you're in the wilds of Africa, probably not so abnormal. Never using a fairly common method of communication which has been around for quite some time now as technology goes is also abnormal. I didn't have a cell phone until less than a y

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CRCulver (715279)
      The argument could be made that if you aren't using e-mail, you're using the post, and as post goes by car or airplane it results in more carbon emissions. But as with all global warming issues, things are rarely so simple.
      • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DigitAl56K (805623) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:52AM (#23451904)
        Why does everything come down to carbon emissions lately, and what does that have to do with the summary. But sure, I'll bite. You're using e-mail. The entire time you're writing it you're sitting at a computer using between 150W and 300W (typical). Probably half a dozen devices between your computer and the destination server are responsible for transmitting the packets over long distances (your modem, the various routers and mail servers). The NSA intercepts your e-mail, automatically runs AI on it in a massive data farm, which uses quite a lot of CPU time. Meanwhile a letter is read with zero power emissions at both ends, and it is transported with tens of thousands of other letters, the inefficient part of the transport being only near the local destination.

        But honestly, I just pulled that out of my ass, and so did you, and probably so will anyone else who replies. But that will still be more interesting than the questions raised in the summary..
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by JPLemme (106723)
          Don't forget the CPU cycles the NSA needs to decrypt your email before they can analyze it. Remember: encrypting your email isn't just unpatriotic; it also wastes Mother Earth's natural resources.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cayenne8 (626475)
          "Why does everything come down to carbon emissions lately, and what does that have to do with the summary. "

          I dunno, but, I do notice it tries to be injected into far too many conversations.

          Personally I don't give a damn....I'm not out to alter my life or lifestyle as long as I can afford it. I like the way I live, and carbon emissions or whatever 'green' topic of the day just is not on my radar. I'm definitely not alone on this....I think the people so adamant about this, are just a very loud minority o

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mangu (126918)

      If people needed to use e-mail then they would use e-mail. The summary seems to imply that if you've never sent an e-mail there is something wrong with you or you fail at life. I can think of plenty of careers that don't even involve working with computers, and some people like to enjoy a more "disconnected" lifestyle.

      I, for one, do like to enjoy a more "disconnected" lifestyle. That's why I disconnect my cell phone from time to time, and occasionally leave my e-mail boxes unattended for a few days. There's

      • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by amRadioHed (463061) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:14AM (#23452012)
        Maybe it's more indicative of my own personality flaws, but I sorta wish I didn't have electronics in my life all the time. Realistically the vast majority of time I spent watching TV or surfing the web is wasted time. If I didn't have those always available to me for instant gratification I would spend more time on my less passive pastimes such as reading and studying and in the end I'm sure I would find that to be far more rewarding.

        Instead I'm fairly lazy and so here I am yet again posting on slashdot.
      • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DigitAl56K (805623) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:23AM (#23452036)

        However, computers are very useful tools in *any* lifestyle and they help save a lot of time and resources. Living without computers and e-mail these days is nearly as cumbersome as being illiterate.
        Let me temporarily step into the shoes of Joe Shmoe. I get up in the morning, brush my teeth, take a shower, get dressed and head out to my construction job. I work hard for 8-9 hours. During the day I grab some coffee and some lunch. I listen to the radio. I come home to my wife at night, picking up some groceries on the way. We have dinner together. I go hang out with the guys at the bar for a while, we chat about the game on TV and whether we like Hillary or Obama better. I head back home, help put the kids to bed and turn in.

        Why do I need to use a computer, and what is the big difference it's going to make in my life?

        I often feel sad that I'm so tied to the computer and similar devices - there are plenty of people out there who I feel live a fuller life than I do simply because they're not attached so heavily to computers. While we're sitting here writing to each other on Slashdot about people who don't use e-mail, others who perhaps don't use e-mail are spending time with their families and friends. I would not say I'm envious of people who don't use e-mail, but I can see the positive side of it.
        • by mh1997 (1065630)
          Let me temporarily step into the shoes of Joe Shmoe. I get up in the morning, brush my teeth, take a shower, get dressed and head out to my construction job. I work hard for 8-9 hours. During the day I grab some coffee and some lunch. I listen to the radio. I come home to my wife at night, picking up some groceries on the way. We have dinner together. I go hang out with the guys at the bar for a while, we chat about the game on TV and whether we like Hillary or Obama better. I head back home, help put the k
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by MalHavoc (590724)

          Why do I need to use a computer, and what is the big difference it's going to make in my life?

          And also, how much would having an electronic device diminish the enjoyment of some of those things you mentioned? If I grab coffee and lunch some place during the day, the last thing I want is to be interrupted by a pager or blackberry or cellphone while I am enjoying it. And how many people have no real downtime at life because they are tied to mobile devices? Not necessarily because they are workaholics, but because their job mandates that they carry these things. I'm not tied to a mobile device, do

          • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by iocat (572367) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @09:40AM (#23452632) Homepage Journal
            Some people *LIKE* being connected to electronic devices. If I don't want to get emails, I guess I could turn off my Blackberry, but... I LIKE GETTING MY EMAIL RIGHT AWAY. I love my Blackberry. It rules.

            I like computers. I like email. I like SMS. I like videogames. Hell, I like watching TELEVISION.

            I don't understand this "computers are evil" meme that rises up at slashdot -- what the hell are you doing on this site, or working in tech, if you don't like computers or electronic devices? Unless, you're the kind of 'phone it in' asshats that make my working life less enjoyable -- not saying you are, but what the fuck?

            I've taken vacations and turned off my phone, left the game systems behind, and gone someplace with no TV. It was nice and peaceful, just kicking it and reading books. I love me some books -- probably my favorite leisure activity.

            But I've never been happier to come back from a vacation! Cell phones rule. Videogames rule. Email lets me interact with my wife about a million times more than I would if we didn't have it. Social networks enable me to stay involved in the lives of friends who live thousands of miles away -- and have them involved in my life too. Videogames let me interact with my son on levels I couldn't otherwise. Computers rule. I don't think my laptop has been more than 10 or 20 feet from me, other than if I'm out to eat, in months. Cell phones -- don't get me started! Do you remember trying to coordinating meeting up at a location before cell phones? It sucked! Cell phones are freaking sweet. My phone gives me directions, it tells me where traffic is, it enables email, people can call me on it. It has all my friends' contact info. It connects to the Web. It has an MP4 of the moon landing I can watch when I'm bored. It has MP3s of my favorite songs I can listen to. It's fucking rad!

            Technology: It's a good thing!!

        • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by DarkOx (621550) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @08:40AM (#23452348) Journal
          let me add some of the parts you left out of Joe Shmoe's life.

          Saturday morning:
          I noticed the car was running funny ever since my last fillup and now the check engine light is on. Being a pretty talented mechanic I have checked everything over and it all looked fine, but the spark plug on number 3 cylinder was fouled. I have cleaned and now the engine is running smooth. That damn light is still on though. I'd really like to just reset it and see if it comes back. I am sure there is an easy way and that that Google thing everyone is talking about could tell me but since I don't have a computer I am going to have to spend 2 hours making phone calls to local shops and the manufactures tech center until I can find someone who will tell me how to do this, oh well there goes Saturday.

          Sunday Morning:
          On the way home from warship the wife tells me she has notices our savings account has not been growing as fast lately. She is concerned about our future retirement and sending the kids to college. What are we spending so much money on all of a sudden? She and I would like to know. I keep pretty good records and receipts. I can tell you what are balances are without calling the bank, ok I don't know exactly when that last interest payment got credited. My paper ledger does a great job. Its odd though combing my eyes over it I don't see any unusal expense. Have gas and groceries just gone up that much? Well let me get out the calculator and start totaling those specif items up over the past few months and then flip back to this time last year and do the same. Yep that is where the money went. That only took half an hour, not to shabby, although Jim at work said he has this MickySoft Cash program that lets him do that stuff instantly on his computer. It might be nice I don't know.

          I have no problem with people not wanting to use computers. Its a choice and this is a free society. I do think pretty much Adult living in the United States could extract some value from owning one and knowing how to use it. Maybe you don't need e-mail specifically or anyone one application in particular for that matter depending on who you are what you do. That is fine too. I would even venture to guess the average machine from 1990 and the software to go with it is plenty for most people, at least if it was still in good working order. Lets no even pretend though that anyone not living an extremely exceptional life style like monasticism can't find something to offer them in the last 20 years of personal computing.

          I still you FrameWork under the does emulator on my Linux box for most of my financial record keeping. It does exactly what I need. I have macros to import csv files from my bank and the like, just like quicken. I wrote those when I was to young and poor to by that software otherwise I might have.
          • The issue isn't "Can computers make life easier i some situations?" but rather "Must life be cumbersome without a computer?" The idea that you need a computer to have a normal life and be a normal member of the public and that you would be in some way deficient without one is what was being argues against.
        • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by vertinox (846076) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @09:18AM (#23452522)
          Why do I need to use a computer, and what is the big difference it's going to make in my life?

          Funny that you mentioned construction labor because I got my current contractor referred to me over the net and we actually send communications and contracts via email.

          The point is that computer lack of computer technology is only OK up until a certain point until it is impossible to compete with the rest of society in a capitalistic system.

          Currently Joe works construction, but do to immigration and advances in technology his jobs are getting harder and harder to find (also especially due to the failing housing market).

          When a site manager needs to pick up some hired hands and depending on the skill will take first come first serve with the employment and he needs those workers ASAP. Sure he'll put in a ad in the local newspaper, but he also posts on Craigslist or a Union forum or emailing list (if you happen to live in such an area) that he needs workers for his latest project.

          Joe shows up a day after the ad in the newspaper went out and the site manager says "Sorry bud, we got everyone we need last night with mostly these 18 to 20 year olds who responded to the online posts and emails."

          Now such a scenario isn't 100% likley... I mean he might have a friend with a computer or knows the cousin of the site manager who gave him a ring the night before, but thats no guarantee as time progresses.

          We have limited resources and employment to go around and having a computer will give you an edge information wise and if you sit this out then you'll find yourself sitting at home unemployed more and more because people who got the information before you get it the old fashion way.

          So in about 10 to 20 years if you don't have a computer... We'll then lets just say lets hope your kids do so they can take care of you.

          You know that ATT commercial about "the moment"? There is a reason most major corporations are forcing their employees to always carry a blackberry and thats because in a purely competitive world, those who know first will get there first to be served first.

          Its just how the world works at this point though I personally don't like the idea of having to be on call all the time...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by elrous0 (869638) *
          You're making the same mistake Peter made in "Office Space," romanticizing the "simple life" of the working class. I grew up working class. It's not romantic. It's not simple. It sucks ass. Working a mind-numbing hard labor job is a fucking nightmare. I went to college and now work a job that is sometimes a bit of a pain; but compared to cutting tobacco, cleaning toilets, and working on a factory assembly line, it's a dream job.
    • by dbcad7 (771464)
      I didn't even bother with reading the article after the summary.. I have no mod points , but I agree with your assessment., I would also add that regardless of the "easy enough for my grandma to use" that is often talked about here.. the reality is most grand parents don't use a computer.. I also know plenty of people at work who use computers at work, but just don't have the interest in owning one at home. It doesn't make them Luddites or technophobic it just means they don't have an interest in it.... I l
    • "Or are these people just Luddites who mourned the demise of the telegraph and have also never used a telephone?"

      Its that sort of arrogant crap that makes people vow to never use a computer. Some people have no need for a particular tech. I NEVER send text messages, they seem a waste of time. I don't use RSS and have no idea what twitter is. I never use myspace and don't have a facebook page.

      So fucking sue me.

      This infantile attitude of "I use tech X and thus so should you" just shows the immaturity of the p
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rob Kaper (5960)

        Some people have no need for a particular tech.


        A growing share of the job and consumer market have e-mail as preferred or sole communication method - or at least for the initial trigger. I'm willing to bet that 20% will continue to evaporate.
        • by Oligonicella (659917) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @08:09AM (#23452188)
          From article:

          One-half of those who have never used e-mail are over 65, and 56 percent had no schooling beyond high school.

          What do you want to be there's a significant overlap in those two groups? What do you want do bet that those over 65 aren't concerned about e-mail being the sole communication method of either job or consumer markets? That 'evaporation' will be simple attrition and won't support any conclusions at all.
      • I have to agree with you there. True, I do send text messages, emails and use Twitter, but I still use paper mail, and telephony (be it via VoIP or an old-fashioned phone). And I steadfastly refuse to use anything like Spazbook or Myface. What the point of them actually is remains a mystery to me.

        I don't condemn people who don't use the above technologies. It's their own decision.

        True, I tell them about the benefits of having an e-mail address (instant-ish delivery, free), but I don't condemn them for not

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Alphasite (1261864)
        I'm sorry, you don't belong here. You lied in the registration form.

        The licence agreement for Slashdot surely states "I admit I'm a geek or nerd with little or not social life, I therefore know twitter, use RSS and send at least two text messages a day. I hate Microsoft (having any version of Windows is allowed, but should be denied publicly, if you are busted using it Slashdot denies any knoledge or responsabilite and will not be hold responsible)"
    • My next door neighbor owns a small contracting business. He himself is a carpenter by trade. He uses Excel and Autocad and surfs the web a little for news once in awhile, but he doesn't use email, or IM for that matter. The files he gets from his architect are very large to begin with and are usually delivered on a USB flashdrive. He has an email address that came with his cable Internet. He just doesn't use it and doesn't seem to need it.
    • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by servognome (738846) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:09AM (#23451980)

      What are the implications of this statistic to our society?

      None. If people needed to use e-mail then they would use e-mail. The summary seems to imply that if you've never sent an e-mail there is something wrong with you or you fail at life. I can think of plenty of careers that don't even involve working with computers, and some people like to enjoy a more "disconnected" lifestyle.
      There are in fact implications to our society. Rather than look at it as a flaw in the people, look at it from the point of view that the flaws of email does not meet the communication needs of those people. By learning the reasons email doesn't meet the communication needs of a significant portion of the population, you can either expand the capabilities of email, or design new systems to address those gaps.
      • By learning the reasons email doesn't meet the communication needs of a significant portion of the population, you can either expand the capabilities of email, or design new systems to address those gaps.

        Those gaps don't exist. If they did, 20% of the population would be working on a way to solve them. This goes back to the original point: People will use e-mail if they need to.

        E-mail is not the only solution to communication. It does not fulfill all communication needs and it does not need to fulfill all communication needs. Does everyone you know own a TV? Lots of my friends choose not to, for different reasons. That does not mean that the capabilities of TV must be expanded or that new systems must be d

    • by Rob Kaper (5960)

      The summary seems to imply that if you've never sent an e-mail there is something wrong with you or you fail at life.

      Without e-mail you would depend on and pay for an agent for the most trivial purchases. You have the inability to book your own e-tickets for flights and events, to even consider thousands of useful on-line retailers for your shopping. Telephone and paper support for some of these tasks are being reduced and might not even exist for new businesses.

      So you are failing to adopt. Your ways will e

  • by religious freak (1005821) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:21AM (#23451758)
    People still RENT their phones...
    http://www.clientleasingservices.com/ [clientleas...rvices.com]

    750,000 of them, according to usatoday...
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/offbeat/2006-09-14-phone_x.htm [usatoday.com]
  • Shocked?! (Score:5, Informative)

    by sysusr (971503) <sysusrNO@SPAMlinuxmail.org> on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:25AM (#23451778)
    According to http://www.internetworldstats.com/am/us.htm [internetworldstats.com]:

    Internet Usage Statistics
    215,935,529 Internet users as of Dec/07, 71.7% of the population, according to Nielsen//NetRatings

    Latest Population Estimate
    301,139,947 population for 2007, according to the Census Bureau.
    If 28.3% of the population aren't internet users, why is it a surprise that 20% haven't sent an email?
    • by TypoNAM (695420)
      Nielsen? As in the same damn Nielsen company that's responsible for basically all the good shows that people actually love getting canceled and the utter crap that keeps getting season renews that is basically watched by nobody except brainless zombies around...

      So I assume they only accounted those who use the internet also use their television watch boxes and then used some obscure multiplier to get that number, right?
      Yeah I'm going to believe their statistics alright.
      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by Dr_Barnowl (709838)
        Nielsen isn't responsible for the cancellation of decent television.

        The brainless zombies are, because they are in the majority.

        The network executives are, because they only look at the bottom line, and the bottom line is brainless zombies.

        Lobby your government for a national public broadcaster that has a mandate to inform, educate, and entertain [bbc.co.uk] if you want a change.
        • by asc99c (938635)

          The brainless zombies are, because they are in the majority.
          The brainless zombies are, because they are running the cable companies.
  • TFA links here [networkworld.com], which is presumably a podcast of some Lotus Notes dude (insert obligatory Notes joke here) pushing the idea that "that collaboration tools such as e-mail, telephones and desktops will die at the hands of unified communications."

    So, what's the angle? They're trying to tell us that since a whopping 20% of society has never used email, we should all sell our computers and buy a LotusBerry(tm)?

    Pfffffffft.
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
      He's probably right over the long term... in the short term we have what we have. email is on the downslope because spam killed it (a combination of sms and facebook seems to be more popular at the moment) but it's all fashion until something sticks long term, and that's not predictable until it happens.

  • How then... (Score:3, Funny)

    by FinchWorld (845331) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:31AM (#23451812) Homepage
    ...will they 1|\|cr3A53 7H3 51Z3 0F 7H3R3 /\/\3/\/\83r?
  • by ilovegeorgebush (923173) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:31AM (#23451814) Homepage

    What are the implications of this statistic to our society?
    Err, Jesus - absolutely nothing. Calm the fuck down?
  • by johannesg (664142) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:32AM (#23451816)
    Just about 100% of all young, single females have never sent email to me!
  • ... by e-mail and technology.

    On the other side, most people that doesn't know how to use e-mail ask techies they know for help.

    I have already forgotten how many mails I have sent for my mom and aunts.
  • Surely, given that only about 60% of the population is capable of writing a grammatical letter, this is hardly a surprising statistic?
  • by AbRASiON (589899) * on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:42AM (#23451856) Journal
    20% of the US population hasn't used email?
    Good lord who cares!

    I bet 85% of the US population have never been in a war.
    I bet 100% of the US population are under 19' tall.
    At least 20% of the US population will never see this post.
    Hell I wouldn't be surprised if 10% of the US population don't even own a cell phone.

    It's rare that I would complain about the news here but whoever approved this AND whoever submitted it, wtf, really? Just WTF.
    • by echucker (570962)
      Kent Brockman: Mr. Simpson, how do you respond to the charges that petty vandalism such as graffiti is down eighty percent, while heavy sack-beatings are up a shocking nine hundred percent?

      Homer: Aw, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty percent of all people know that.

  • by Metallic Vortex (1281782) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:59AM (#23451928)
    The article says that it was a phone survey. This means: 1: The people are obviously not "Luddites who mourned the demise of the telegraph and have also never used a telephone", since they used a phone to answer the survey questions. 2: Most of the tech-savvy people I know don't even have land lines. They use cell phones or things like Skype, which are difficult to survey for various reasons. The people who go those routes have generally used email. Therefore, the sample population was already skewed toward people who wouldn't have used email anyway.
    • by Rob Kaper (5960)

      Therefore, the sample population was already skewed toward people who wouldn't have used email anyway.


      Not necessarily: the sample population also misses all the true Luddites, who wouldn't even have a phone to answer the survey. :)
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
      Not having a land line is a rarity... cell phones are still way more expensive to run, and for skype you need internet, which pretty much mandates having a phone as (a) dsl runs over a phone line, so (duh) you need a phone line to run it over, and (b) cable companies don't like selling packages without phones (it can be done but is hassle).

      There's also absolutely nothing that says a phone survey couldn't have sampled a number of cell phones - in fact I'd expect them to as otherwise you limit the samples to
    • Most of the tech-savvy people I know don't even have land lines. They use cell phones or things like Skype, which are difficult to survey for various reasons.

      How many of these tech savvy people own homes? The advantage to a plain old telephone is that it is self powered. If you lose your electrical service for some reason a plain old telephone will still work. Also having a plain old telephone does not preclude you from using cell phones or skype when there is a cost advantage.

      Besides "tech savvy" pe
  • 10 years.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MosesJones (55544) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:04AM (#23451960) Homepage
    To put this into some form of perspective, strange here on Slashdot I know, but in reality for most people internet became a potential reality around 1998 (AOL going onto the internet from its walled garden) or at best 1996. So maybe another way to look at this study would be

    From zero to 80% in 10/12/15 years, how the US has embraced email

    Sure lots of the people here on Slashdot might have had an email account in the 80s, but that is an insignificant minority. I actually think that it is pretty impressive at 80% penetration given some of the literacy issues in the US education system.
  • by ThreeGigs (239452) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:07AM (#23451968)
    Sending a snail mail letter requires no major initial investment.

    Sending your first email requires an investment to purchase your computer and subscribe to an ISP's plan.

    Making a phone call requires a minimal investment in a phone, and a monthly fee of about the same price as internet access.

    Sending an SMS usually requires either a 1 or 2 year commitment to a cellular provider's service plan, or the purchase of a phone for use with pre-paid minutes.

    So, if these 20% want or need to provide a written record of communication, they can use snail mail at a cost of 50 cents (plus an initial investment of a dollar for a pen), or they can spend $500 on a computer and $20 a month on an ISP.

    If they want a faster response than a snail mail, they *pick up the phone*. Which trumps email and IM on speed if more than one question/response is needed.

    Or they use an SMS or voicemail or an answering machine if the intended recipient isn't available.

    For "Joe Average", the cost/benefit ratio of email is absolutely horrible compared to other forms of communication. And since there really isn't any pressing *need* for them to have email, they don't make that investment. From anecdotal observations, I'd also say that another 20% of the population *with* computers and internet access *don't use email* on any regular basis. They use the internet for entertainment and information *not* communication.

    As for me, I've been using email since the late 80's, early 90's. However up until 2005, I had *never* sent an SMS. And until mid 2006 when I had a reason to use SMS more, I had only sent maybe 3 SMSes.

    So, for a service (email) that has no real value to many, has many alternatives, and requires a sizeable initial investment, is it any surprise that 20% of the population hasn't bothered with it? One wonders if perhaps they're the smarter ones.
    • Sending your first email requires an investment to purchase your computer and subscribe to an ISP's plan.

      Maybe where you live, but 50c in an Internet cafe will do it for the rest of us.

      In most other parts of the world, you can send e-mails from your mobile phone for free if you can be bothered

      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        If you have a mobile you send SMS, because you already have all the information you need - their phone number.

        Email is still a losing proposition here:

        1. Only business plans actually give you one with your mobile phone, and that costs extra anyway. You won't be able to use your ISPs one because if it's configured correctly they won't allow connections to their SMTP server from outside their network.
        2. You nearly always have to configure it manually, which means knowing what an SMTP and IMAP server actually
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          And 50c in an internet cafe? Where? All the ones I've seen make you buy time in hourly chunks for about $10 or so.

          The GP could have phrased things better but he is essentially correct. In the developing world and the "wealthy" but space constrained world people generally do not own computers, they go to the local cafes which are plentiful and inexpensive. Cafes in the US are expensive because they serve a different demographic. Perhaps too many teenagers who couldn't talk their dads out of buying a cele
  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:10AM (#23451984)
    What proportion of the population is under 10?

    How about over 60?

    These groups are overwhelmingly not emailers (yes I know a few members of either of these groups will trump up "I do" - you've self-selected so you're not representative)

    Once you take these groups out, you probably have about 80% of the population. I'd have to say that I doubt if all, or even close to all, the remainder have used email. Therefore I assume the total of never-emailed is higher than the 20% cited.

    However, in the grand scheme of things, so what? People can lead full and happy lives without technology. Hard as it may be for the tech-obessed to even consider it, not everyone is like them.

  • by DMoylan (65079) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:26AM (#23452038)
    from wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

    Poverty in the United States is cyclical in nature with roughly 12% to 15% living below the federal poverty line at any given point in time, and roughly 40% falling below the poverty line at some time within a 10 year time span.

    if you are living below the poverty line then a computer and the increasingly large amount of power it uses are a unavailable luxury.
    • Plenty of people in poverty (and some not who just don't feel like buying their own computer) use the internet at a public library. I've seen accounts from many homeless people online who got back on track thanks to public library computers and online job/housing listings.
  • by Secrity (742221) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:40AM (#23452074)
    Why are people who see no need to have a computer being called Luddites? I don't know that any of these people are opposed to progress, they simply don't have access to email equipment or don't use email even if they have access.

    My mom and dad are definitely not Luddites, my mom used to be a Cobol programmer and my dad taught me electronics when I was small; they simply don't see any need for a computer in their home. They have cell phones, a 5.1 channel sound system, and DirectTV; but no computer.

    When people see no need for televisions in their homes, should they also be called Luddites?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Alphasite (1261864)
      No need for television?

      Doesn't homes come with integrated tvs? I mean, if you don't have a tv where are you supposed to plugin the PS3?
  • No surprise (Score:2, Insightful)

    by theeddie55 (982783)
    especially when you consider that about 12% of the population is under 10 years old and 16% of the popluation is over 65. a majority of these people are not going to be sending emails.
  • Choice? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @08:06AM (#23452164) Journal
    The summary, even leaving aside its tone, is flawed in that it seems to presuppose this is by choice.

    I think people underestimate the amount of poverty - even in the US, where the official definition of poor still most often includes obesity, a car, 2 televisions, airconditioning, and other things seen as luxuries across most of the world.

    If you have a family of 4, and are making a combined income of ~$30k/year, and have payments to make for housing/car/food/medical, you might be stretching to pay the PHONE bill much less have luxury money to spend on frivolities like a web connection. And yes, they are frivolities: if all of your friends are in similar financial circumstances, you have even less incentive because they aren't going to be online EITHER. Finally, even the web is squeezing these folks out - browsing by modem SUCKS, and it seems that more and more sites are building fancy flash front-ends that take minutes to d/l at modem speeds.
  • Well duh (Score:3, Funny)

    by mobby_6kl (668092) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @08:18AM (#23452230)
    In US of A, email is only for old people.
  • It is probably fair to suggest that many of the 20% in this situation have made a conscious choice to avoid computers with the same determination one would bring to avoiding a rabid dog.

    Would it be unfair to note that according to the American Research Group, George Bush's job approval rating is somewhere around 20%, and speculate that perhaps members of one group may be just a tad over-represented in the other?

    It might be illuminating to see what percentage of this group believe evolution is "just a t

  • by smchris (464899) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @08:35AM (#23452316)
    Those of us around IT don't always see them regularly, but remember, 16-17% of the population just aren't that smart. And per another comment, 1% are in jail. I saw a college alumni survey about a decade ago and email use really dropped over about the age of 55 -- which I guess now might extrapolate to 65? Lot of Americans over 65. Lot of Americans at the poverty level as well.

    Admittedly, many of these factors are coexistent but 20% sounds really good all things considered.
  • What kind of sensationalism is this? Numbers are quoted, but the links, rather than pointing to the source of the numbers, point to other semi-related opinions.

    It's an interesting article, but it seems to have much ties to the truth as any book by James Dobson.

    I miss the days when publishers were accountable for providing facts to back up their words.
  • ...82% of the population could care less.

    Film at 11.
  • ...we sell entries in a (UK) based business directory gonumber.com [gonumber.com] and part of the selling process involves personal visits to high street retailers, restaurants etc. Approx 10% do not have an email address at all, while another 10% do not even use computers at all. (An email address does not of course require your own computer.) There are two groups who fit this profile: a) Older people of all ethnic groups. b) 1st generation immigrants. There are cultural reasons. Some people just like to communicate and
  • by mraiser (1151329) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @10:02AM (#23452758)
    ...approximately 20% A government study showed that 21% to 23% of adult Americans were not "able to locate information in text", could not "make low-level inferences using printed materials", and were unable to "integrate easily identifiable pieces of information." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literacy_in_the_United_States)
  • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @10:07AM (#23452786)
    According to this Newsweek article from 2002, in 2002 44M of the (then approx. 280M) US population were functionally illiterate.

    http://www.shashitharoor.com/articles/newsweek/illiterate.php [shashitharoor.com]

    From other sources about 11-12% of the US population is below the official poverty level, and I'll bet there's only partial overlap of that figure will the functionally illiterate group.

    From that perspective 80% of households using e-mail seems remarkably high, especially for such a new technology with such a high barrier (computer ownership/literacy, internet access, intellectual curiosity) to entry.
  • Or are these people just Luddites who mourned the demise of the telegraph and have also never used a telephone?
    Have you considered that perhaps this group of people is largely poor, homeless, illiterate, and concerned more about where their next meal is going to come from than whether or not you think they're backwards for not being able to afford a computer, internet access, or the time needed to learn to read as an adult?
  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Sunday May 18, 2008 @11:51AM (#23453504) Homepage Journal

    The Pew Internet & American Life Project has some excellent information [pewinternet.org] about how Americans use Internet and mobile technology. Despite Slashdot, Twitter, MySpace, et. al., a huge slice of America only uses modern communications technology when they need to, while a smaller slice tries to avoid it.

    For many people, technology is something they struggle to adapt to, rather than rush to embrace. It can be frustrating for these people, and very time-consuming. There's only so much time in the day, and if I weren't keeping up on the latest geekery, I could be using that time to read more history, ride my bike more, become a karate black belt, or whatever.

    Most people are not technology-obsessed, and there will always be a certain percentage of the population that is too old to care about the latest new thing that makes it easier to hook up with barhopping friends or more easily consume huge libraries of P2P pr0n.

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