Several months ago, I heard a story on NPR about what your personal email address reveals about you. If you have Gmail, you’re likely young and/or Internet-savvy. If you have Yahoo!, you’re somewhat Internet knowledgeable, but clearly old school and bordering on outdated. If you have AOL, forget it.
While I understand the theory behind these categorizations, as a Yahoo!er, I am somewhat opposed to being judged simply because of my @yahoo.com personal email status. I know that Google has surpassed Yahoo! as the Internet information source of choice. Google is more than a company, it’s a verb; when you need answers, you Google . . . you don’t Yahoo! I often Google, and it would probably be more convenient for me to have a Gmail address, as I spend considerable time there. But I’ve had my Yahoo! account for more than 10 years and, besides being a reliable place to find me, Yahoo! has my loyalty because we have history.
When I graduated from college, the Internet was just becoming the general public’s go-to information vehicle, and email was slowly replacing telephone communication. I took a job with a small speakers bureau in Washington, D.C., which was run by a woman in her seventies. While once a Washington insider with a booming business, my boss was buckling in the face of change, and it showed—the booming business had dwindled to seven employees crammed into a single office suite. The seven of us shared one computer with Internet access, and no one had email.
I didn’t last long in that environment. Six months later, I found a new company full of twenty-somethings, and I was immediately given my own computer with Internet access and an email address. It took me a few weeks to get comfortable with using email, but it was the company’s primary communication method, so I had no choice. As I learned the ins and outs of Outlook, my email apprehension faded, and I soon sent messages flying through cyberspace with ease.
With Internet access at my fingertips, I quickly discovered Yahoo! as a valuable source of workday information (and, let’s be honest, entertainment). It was inevitable that I would seal my Internet arrival with my very own Yahoo! address.
To me, having a Yahoo! address doesn’t mean I’m old school, incapable of change. In fact, it’s a reminder of my willingness to change . . . and my decision to find a company that forced the issue. If I had stayed with my aging employer, who knows how long it would had taken me to discover the Internet (I didn’t even have a home computer at the time). A company that refuses to move forward does more than damage itself, it holds its employees back as well. And in turn, a company that engages in change and seeks out the next new invention, propels its employees to continue learning and bettering their professional and personal positions.
Just over a year ago, The History Factory founder, Bruce Weindruch, decided we should join the new media wave and start this blog. Once again, I found myself in an uncomfortable position, having no familiarity with blogging. But with some research, some practice, and some advice from the younger employees (Gmailers), now I even know a little HTML.
Yahoo!, you recently celebrated your 15th birthday. Congratulations. As you face the next 15 years, it’s clear you have some work to do to catch up with Google in terms of growth and innovation. But if you look to your history, you’ll see the forerunner that you once were and that you can be again. Hey, if I can dabble in new media, anything’s possible.