Gmail was, once upon a time, an invite-only cool kids’ club of early adopters. Today, it is unquestionably the standard for today’s 20- and 30-somethings: personal email for the professionals, and professional email for the pseudo-professionals/freelancers/artists/perennially-unemployed/web-trepreneurs. “Very late-twenties,” as my friend recently put it.
But not so long ago there was no Gmail. There was Hotmail. And YahooMail. And before that AOL. Tracing the evolution is like looking at the rings of a tree, or geological strata. The earliest ancestors have died off: you shan’t be receiving anything from the fossils of Prodigy or Eudora. Still, the old guard is adapting, trying to keep up with the cutting edge in electronic letter-writing. Where you stand in the fray may represent as much about you as the clothes you wear, or whether you order hoagies, heroes or subs.