In a country where half the population can't agree upon who legitimately belongs in the Oval Office - or whether the Colonel's chicken is tastier prepared according to the Original Recipe or Extra Crispy style - one aspect of modern life enjoys overwhelming consensus: Email.
According to the results of a Gallup poll of email users released at the end of July, more than nine out of 10 say that both email (97%) and the Internet (96%) have made their lives better.
Despite the ease and availability of free Web browsers and the vast amount of content across the Internet, sending and reading email is the dominant online activity.
Nine in 10 say they use email at home, and more than eight in 10 use it at work. Fifty-three percent use email at both places, and the majority have more than one email address (23% have only one). Some 33% have two unique email addresses, 14% have three, 7% have four, and 22% have five or more.
Those who use email at work check it more often and send and receive more messages than home viewers. Most (51%) who use e-mail at work check it at least hourly, including 32% who say they check it "continuously." An additional 33% say they check email at work a couple times a day, and 11% check it once. Only 5% check it less often than once a day. At home, only 6% check email hourly, including the obsessive 3% who check it continuously. The majority check email at home either a couple times a day (30%) or once a day (41%), although 22% check it less often.
How much mail arrives? The typical email user receives 12 messages at work each day, while 28% receive 20 or more. Sending email is less common, as the typical user issues just six emails each work day. Only 16% send 20 or more messages daily. At home on a typical day, an email user receives just eight messages and sends only three.
Not surprisingly, respondents cited business associates and family members as those whom they email most often. Most recipients estimated three out of every 10 emails they receive are spam, 39% say they get more than that, and 18% claim at least half their email is spam.
When it comes to spam, 42% of email users insist they "hate it."
Another 45% say they find it "an annoyance, but do not hate it," while the rest have no strong feelings either way (9%). Only 4% admit they sometimes find information contained in spam useful. But if you really want to irritate email users, show them Internet pop-up ads: By a 65% to 34% margin, email users find pop-up ads more annoying than spam.