The fallout from Hillary Clinton’s decision to use a personal email address and server rather than an official U.S. government one when she was Secretary of State continues. Most recently, she announced that she should have used a government email address — no kidding! — but also says she’s deleted emails from that personal server that were private and that the server itself will never be produced if she has anything to say about it. I guess we’ll just have to trust her and her staff to make a complete and thoughtful production.
But enough about Hillary; we’ll no doubt be hearing more from her in the future. One of the more interesting elements of her email tale is that it has provoked some politicians to step forward and declare that they don’t use email. South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham says he has never sent an email — which is a bit strange because he is a member of the Senate Internet Policy subcommittee. Other Senators similarly don’t use email.
Bill Clinton also is a non-emailer. His spokesman says he’s only sent two emails in his entire life, both while he was President, which means he hasn’t used email for about 15 years. That’s kind of weird, too, because Hillary Clinton says that one reason she’s not producing the email server she used is that it includes “personal communications from my husband and me.” How personal communications from a confessed non-emailer made it onto an email server is anybody’s guess, but I’m sure the Clintons will promptly clear up that little inconsistency, too.
It’s hard to imagine not using email at all in the modern world. I can understand wanting to have some important conversations face to face, where the people involved can react to each other, or concluding that a nice handwritten note about an important occasion is a more meaningful, personal touch than sending a message that ends up in typeface on a glowing computer screen. But email is now so ubiquitous that complete non-use makes you wonder: why? Is it really plausible that these folks never tried to use a new form of technology even once? Do the non-users think they’re just too important to use a handy communication tool that the rest of us use on a daily basis? Are they afraid that they are going to say something stupid or intemperate and that it will be preserved for all time? Are they so clumsy and incapable in their typing — or thumbing — skills that they just refuse out of frustration?
It’s like still using pony express when you could make a telephone call. It immediately suggests that you are out of touch and out of step with the modern world and the daily lives of most Americans. Politicians who aren’t using email aren’t violating federal law, but they are violating societal norms.