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Email Discussed in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

Does Email Hurt or Help Friendships?

In Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (yes, I saw it and am not afraid to admit it), America Ferrera's character Carmen, long the thread (pun intended) that held the four friends together, becomes exasperated over her foursome's inability to communicate over distances. When they cite email as being the way they connect, and don't connect — Blake Lively's character Serena — er, Bridget — says, "It's not my fault I have a lame server!" (Oh you went there, Bridget, really?!).

Carmen retorts, "Email, you guys? Really? That's lame," and as the characters hung their heads guiltily, I did too. To see why I think email hurts friendships, just


I generally operate under the notion that email has helped me stay in touch with my friends, which sure, it may have — but if I didn't have email, would I not be communicating with this friend at all, as I reassure myself, or would I be picking up the phone and hearing their voice?

While email gives you another opportunity to get in touch, you tend to begin to only email that person, and even then, despite its ease that tends to drop off too. Of course, many friendships naturally face expiration, but email is pretty much the least committal form of communication.

In an email, we have time to compose and project the most sanitized version of events in our lives — having voice-on-voice communication adds a more personal element — how many times have you said, "I missed hearing your voice" or, "It's so good to hear your voice?" I doubt anyone has ever said they missed seeing your typed words.

On the phone (or in person, even better), you might say everything's fine, but your tone might convey something else, which a friend may pick up on. In an email that's that. There's no organic back and forth. And I know that those gloriously exalted letters of old, of pen and paper, also consist of written word, lacking tone — but let's not kid ourselves, guys; emails will never be letters.

Don't get me wrong! I love email; I love having it as an option and I communicate via email all day every day, but for those you love and who love you — it should be a supplement for talking to your loved ones, not your main form. Which I think was Carmen's point. Whether or not pants were involved.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

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happykatkat happykatkat 7 years
thank everyone for your comments about email. i love it, and i do agree that if you have friends far away what a great way to keep in touch. here is my questions about email and friendship, the receiving person sometimes takes the entire email our of contex. i may self have recived emails and thought the person sending was mad. so i end up calling the person any to make sure we are cool! had any one else had this happen? it seems you have to be so careful. thoughts?
Purly Purly 8 years
People I talk to often, I do so over AIM. Email is great for the same crowd you would traditionally be sending letters with... relatives, employers, and business associates.
Nyrina-Windu Nyrina-Windu 8 years
Sometimes communicating over emails is better than some of the other ways, minus face to face. I don’t like texting. Plus, when you email you can add graphics and other photos to put a smile on your friends face, even if that friend is working on the 10th level and you are on the 2nd level of your office building. Emails can be fun when you’re taking a break.
neko neko 8 years
I never was a big fan of e-mail for communicating with people far away. There's always some kind of pressure to respond, but then you don't want to respond when nothing has happened, etc. It's part of why I love twitter so much, it's a series of updates without the pressure of responding.
Pallas-Athena Pallas-Athena 8 years
The one thing I hate communicating with is the phone. I love talking to my family using it, but with friends I'd rather be face to face. In fact, I love talking face to face with people, but if I had to I would rather use email to talk to friends if we can't reach each other through the phone or can't see each other.
joygwilson joygwilson 8 years
my girlfriends and I email all the time, none of us live in the same city, we are spread out all over the country (with one even in Europe). We even created a blog that we all can log into and post updates on our life, etc. It is a wonderful way to stay in touch. I do however, LOVE a good old fashioned hand written letter. I have tons of notecards, and I send one to each friend at least every month. I say any form of keeping in touch is fine, as long as you are consistent in keeping up with good friends.
kcwebgirl kcwebgirl 8 years
okay, sisterhood of the traveling pants 2 was awesome. every girl should see it with her girlfriends. it's a friendship movie for normal people who don't live in fancy ny apts or wear designer everything. now, about email -- it is lame for maintaining a friendship. it's great for supplemental info between real conversations. i happen to talk to my friends every few days but we use text, im and email to stay in touch in between. relationships require actual communication and email is not actual communication. own it.
looseseal looseseal 8 years
Email is great for maintaining friendships until they start sending you chain mails. I automatically delete from my life anyone who sends me chain mail and doesn't get the hint after getting my reply with snopes links. ;)
EvilDorkGirl EvilDorkGirl 8 years
I'm with Julieuli... I don't like talking on the phone for long conversations, nor do I have the time to. It's not like people like being called at 7 a.m. or at 11 p.m., which is basically when my life slows down long enough to make a decent phone call. On the other hand, I can read an e-mail at midnight, think about it, and respond thoughtfully. Plus I have friends that live around the world -- one in Japan, one in India -- and it would cost a fortune to keep in touch with them via phone, not to mention how difficult it is to actually reach them due to the time difference. Furthermore, I've had the same e-mail address for years and years now. I've had friends who I've lost touch with track me down via e-mail or LJ. So it's actually helped keep friendships alive that have previously kind of just fizzled.
Taadie Taadie 8 years
I'm not a big phone person but ive definitely gotten into more trouble with friends (fighting and such) through email than i have over the phone. I have a couple of friends who I almost never send emails to, we always talk on the phone. Its not that often, maybe once every two months but i feel so much closer to them when i hear their voices. We all lead busy lives, in grad school and working 50+ hours a week but its just... nicer. I find I get more out of the conversation when we talk on the phone than through emails. But thats just me.
julieulie julieulie 8 years
Maybe it's because of my schedule.. but my best friend and I communicate almost exclusively ONLY through e-mail. We see each other maybe 4-5 times a year, speak on the phone maybe 2-3 times a year, and the rest of the time, our friendship is maintained through email. I work 80+ hours/week in the lab, so I just don't have TIME for long chit-chatty conversations, and when I do call someone like her who just likes to chat on and on, it really stresses me out, because I'm always thinking about what else I need to get done. With email, however, I can write the email when I have time to do so, and send it. If I forget to add something, I can send another email 5 minutes later, and another one 5 minutes after that, as opposed to when you call someone, and forget to tell them something, and turn into the annoying person (at least to me, with no spare time) who keeps calling back. If we talked on the phone, it would be once a month, and rushed and hurried, 10-15 minutes max, and we would be so busy catching up with the big things, we wouldn't get around to the little things friends share. But since we email all the time, we don't have that issue. So basically, I totally disagree with Geek.
Sevy Sevy 8 years
While I do agree with what those before me said. I also agree that email can hurt a friendship. I mean.. even if I'm typing like I am now as opposed to "idk lol ur hilarious", it still kind of kills it for me. If I really want to keep a friendship going and keep it as strong as it was before we went our seperate ways, I'd MUCH prefer talking to them on the phone or something. It's just.. the closest you can get without actually being around them. And during a time when you're going to college and stuff, that's all you can really ask for, you know? I mean, it'll be hard when I go to college and I can't see my friends as much as I'd like, and of course I'll email/facebook them, but I don't want that to be the only means of communication between us.
cmd0610 cmd0610 8 years
So true prettywarrior- I have gotten thank you's for a "thoughtful email" and for "keeping in touch"!
prettywarrior prettywarrior 8 years
E-mail works as long as you're not 15 and typing crap like "IDK my BFF Jill." Also, you're presupposing that everyone is the type of person who loves long talks on the phone. And, just for the record, I have had people say, "It was great to see your e-mail in my inbox." :)
sundaygreen sundaygreen 8 years
If it weren't for facebook / email I wouldn't keep in contact with even half of my friends and acquaintances - especially those living overseas or far away.
cmd0610 cmd0610 8 years
I think this is way over-thinking it- email is so common these days that I think the typed "sterile" words between close friends still have meaning, I know with 100% certainty that I can tell a good story and that my best friends have told me good stories by email. When I lived in Paris I couldn't just pick up the phone to stay in touch with my girl friends . . you learn how to really read and write a meaningful email and communicate better if you have to . . and I think most people "get it". It's not like email was invented yesterday . . .
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