We all remember the episode of Seinfeld in which the beloved Kramer attempts to cancel his Mail Service.

This clip is hilarious for the way the eccentric character, Newman, paints a portrait of the USPS as this ominous villainous corporation, which we know is obviously untrue. But this clip is also interesting because it deals with certain issues we face when we ask ourselves the question: Which is better, carried mail or electronic mail?

To say that Email is superior because it is newer and faster is to miss a huge part of the question. Consider that Seinfeld was popular in the 1990’s, making this clip nearly 20 years old, so questions concerning carried mail’s obsolescence have clearly been in the cultural forefront for some time, and people still use carried-mail, or “snail-mail”.

To put this question to rest, and to help you judge for yourself, we’ve created this list of the pros and cons of snail mail versus Email. Some of the benefits and pitfalls of either method can be surprising!

Snail Mail E-Mail
PROS: PROS:
Reliable – Many businesses require the correspondence of invoices to be handled via snail-mail because the reliance on hard copy financial forms makes them easier to trace and referenceLess Solicitation – When compared with emailed correspondence, Snail mail has a much lower rate of spam and business solicitations; 50% of snail mail is considered spam, while email is 80% spam.More personal – A recent post from Forbes argues the point well, but handwritten snail-mail is generally a more personal, intimate means of communication. You have more room to write and include your thoughts when compared to email. Cheap – A single email costs almost nothing to send, so in terms of the transfer of information, email is much less expensive. Each carried parcel costs money in either stamps or shipping costs.Fast – The most obvious benefit of Email is its speed. Snail-mail gets its name from its obvious drawback, but if you need to get a message to someone in the blink of an eye, email may be the most reliable way to do so.Easy, Universal – Despite what your grandmother might tell you, Email is extremely easy to use and is, more or less, universally accessible. While you do need a computer, once you send an email it is carried through “gateways”, which allow for anyone, anywhere to access the message.
CONS: CONS:
Slow – Snail Mail got its name for a reason. When compared with the lightning speed of E-mail, the pace of carried mail can seem absolutely glacial.Expensive – Obviously, every parcel carried by the Postal Service is taxed. For companies that rely on carried mail for distribution, shipping costs are often the most expensive portion of overhead. Insecure – Email correspondence can be dangerously insecure. It seems like there are new online security threats with each passing month. There are hundreds of resources dedicated to safe email practices to combat these issues, but how do you know which to use?
Impersonal – Because Email is a text only medium, the personal human touch can sometimes be left out of the conversation. Emails can seem cold or terse because they’re only text and often done so quickly.

All in all, the kind of “mail” a person uses is their own decision to make and a majority of people today use both Email and snail-mail. This post was merely to shed light on some of the pros and cons of each style so YOU are aware.

Lastly, here is just a simple graphic we found that shows a comparison on how much of each kind of mail is legitimate mail, and how much is spam. I think we can all agree that spam mail is the real enemy and a “con” for anything mail related.

EmailSnailMailInfographic
image source.