12 Disadvantages of Email

Updated on January 8, 2019
SuperBrainwave profile image

A former teacher of digital media studies in the UK, Paul currently lives in Florida where he works as a freelance writer.


Email has become so commonplace in homes and offices, it is now difficult for most of us to recall life without it. Many jobs now involve a large portion of the day reading, writing and responding to emails.

Although email has transformed communication in some very useful ways, not all the changes that email has brought are positive. In this article I list 12 disadvantages of email.

12 Email Downsides

  1. Impersonal
  2. Misunderstandings
  3. Heat of the Moment
  4. Malicious Use
  5. Accidents Will Happen
  6. Information overload
  7. Spam
  8. Viruses
  9. Time Consuming
  10. Pressure to Respond
  11. Insecure
  12. Overlong Messages

I explain each point in more detail below.

1. Impersonal

Emails are less personal compared to many other forms of communication, such as talking over the phone, or meeting face to face.

2. Misunderstandings

It is easy for misunderstandings to occur with email, as there is only text and no tone of voice, or body language to provide context. Jokes can be mistakenly taken seriously. A well-meaning but quickly typed email can come across as rude, or aggressive. Short descriptions and abbreviations can easily be misinterpreted.

3. Heat of the Moment

An email fired off in the heat of the moment can cause a lot of anger or upset, especially in the workplace, or in a romantic relationship. Even worse, emails are impossible to delete or edit once sent.

4. Malicious Use

Emails can be sent anonymously, which means that they are sometimes used maliciously to bully or upset people. Likewise, they can used to spread gossip, or false information.

5. Accidents Will Happen

It is relatively easy to make catastrophic mistakes with email by clicking the wrong button. For instance, you can accidentally send sensitive information to multiple people rather than just a single, intended recipient. Alternatively, you can send an email to the wrong person by not realizing that you’ve clicked the wrong name in an address list. In the workplace, mistakes like these can result in big trouble, even getting fired.

6. Information Overload

In part because emails are so easy to send to multiple people, they can create information overload. It's a huge problem in many modern workplaces, where there is a lot of information moving around and impossible to tell if an email is important or relevant without opening and reading it. Emails require constant organization and upkeep. Returning from vacation to find hundreds of unopened emails in your inbox is one of the worst feelings in the world .

7. Spam

Although the situation has improved in recent times, there are still major problems with spam and unsolicited advertising arriving via email. It takes time and energy to control and can easily become overwhelming.

8. Viruses

Email is one of the commonest ways for viruses to travel and infect devices. The email might come with a virus, or the virus might be in an attached document. Infection normally occurs when the recipient clicks a link or opens the infected attachment. Infected emails may come from an anonymous source, or appear to come from a trusted friend or contact.

9. Time Consuming

Reading, writing and responding to emails can take up vast amounts of time and energy. Many modern workers spend most, if not all their days just dealing with them. This work can be dull and sometimes it feels like there are few tangible benefits.

10. Pressure to Respond

People get annoyed if you don't answer their emails, they think you are ignoring them, so there is a constant pressure on you to keep opening them and then respond in some way.

11. Insecure

Emails are a common target for hackers seeking sensitive information, such as financial, political, or personal messages or documents. There have been many high profile cases recently that have shown how vulnerable email is to data theft. It's also the case that so many emails fly around in a large organization that it can be difficult to know who has what information, another security issue.

12. Overlong Messages

Email is a form of communication that is generally intended to be brief. Some people seem unaware of this and write overlong messages that take up far more time than necessary.

One look at an email can rob you of 15 minutes of focus. One call on your cell phone, one tweet, one instant message can destroy your schedule, forcing you to move meetings, or blow off really important things, like love, and friendship.

— Jacqueline Leo

3 Email Facts

  1. More than 3.5 million emails are sent per second.
  2. Over 294 billion emails are sent and received daily.
  3. An excess of 100 trillion emails are sent annually.

I was discussing the use of email and how impersonal it can be, how people will now email someone across the room rather than go and talk to them. But I don't think this is laziness, I think it is a conscious decision people are making to save time.

— Margaret J. Wheatley

© 2019 Paul Goodman


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, turbofuture.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)