Guest post by Lia LoBello and Rebecca Maas
In an age where people ages 7-70 have some type of online presence, you might think an e-mail address is a relatively innocuous way of presenting your identity to the world. You’d be wrong.
Particularly among today’s twenty- and thirty-somethings, the type of email address you use says as much as about you – if not more – than any social network profile ever could. Are you a professional? In need of a little update? Or, maybe you actually just need something to reflect how creepy you are? Our research, conducted mostly through conversation with co-workers and friends, is hardly scientific but that doesn’t mean we weren’t able to draw some strong conclusions. An analysis of our findings:
Like most things Google touches, Gmail quickly became the gold standard of e-mail interfaces when it burst onto the e-scene in 2004. Promising that you never had to delete an e-mail again due to nearly-unlimited storage capacities, users had to be invited to create an account by someone with access – and to know such a person was not dissimilar to knowing a guy who knows a guy who can get you and all your friends into the hottest New York nightclub for free. Now open to the public at-large, the typical Gmail account contains all or part of a user’s full name (no SxxxyGrrls or HotBods here, please) and says, “I’m an adult. Take me seriously.”
A classic favorite in the early part of the decade, Hotmail served as an email provider standby for soon-to-be college graduates needing to send resumes to potential employers at lightning speed. The standard Hotmail address usually includes a portion of the owner’s name (typically the first initial and full last name) combined with a significant number, be it a birth date, jersey number or graduation year. Those who have maintained their original Hotmail account over the years are typically afraid of change and aren’t well-versed in current events. “Relationship” is a four-letter word to the average Hotmail user, but they always manage to find a (usually good-looking) date to weddings, funerals and reunions. Also, they tend to live in trendy areas and lease year-end model cars.
Email users who Yahoo! are born leaders and aren’t afraid to prove it. From small business owners to networking professionals, the Outlook-esque format is appealing to account holders and is appropriate for the standard Yahoo! email addresses that typically consist of the user’s full name. That’s not to say Yahoo! users don’t know how to have fun; in fact, the motto “work hard, play hard” is quite fitting. Rarely ones to shy away from the spotlight, they can be outgoing and have a fat Rolodex of “friends” – ranging from old college pals to that friend-of-a-friend who came along on that last-minute trip to Mexico. And while you might not see any Yahoo! email addresses exchanged at the newest restaurant or club opening, they eventually catch on, determined to be part of the fun – even if it means going for the early-bird special on a Wednesday night.
Oh, AOL. We loved you so much in middle school and early high-school, when you were the only game in town. But like a dreamy high school quarterback, you have not aged with the times. You burned us with your steady deletion of emails (forcing us to constantly resend ourselves items of real or imagined importance) and a staggering quantity of spam. Lucky for you, older family members still think this is our primary email address and we keep you around — if only to continue to delete the massive amounts of chain letters said family members still send. Maybe one day, Bill Gates will really send them a million dollars and they can afford some time offline.