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The X and Y generation's first free e-mail account was hotmail. Everyone was doing it at the time and it seemed like the greatest invention ever. People have developed friendships, ended friendships and begun new ones through using my email.
Years later, younger generation (the ones born after 1985) did the same while using msn, an on-line messenger. Kids would actually maintained meaningful (?) relationships that seemed to be based purely on sending messages back and forth between each other, that way. It took care of shyness, it made communicating easier, the notes passed in class became a thing of the past.
Hotmail is great because it not only offers a free email but also gives you news, allows you to chat with people all over the world and is yet a wonderful tool that makes internet such a great and useful necessity.
Since hotmail there were more free email tools developed, such as Yahoo or Lycos. Many found it quite difficult to part with hotmail but it had to be done because with time hotmail started to be unable to block junk mail and few years ago the hotmail antivirus protection was not up to speed (it is now)...
I remember visiting my grandmother in another country and trying to explain to her how was it possible that I was getting mail from friends without actual letters arriving in my mailbox. It was a generation thing but for the life of me I could not explain it well to my grandmother who was already lost before I finished saying the word "internet".
My grandma just didn't get it and it was too bad because I thought it would be wonderful to keep in touch with her more frequently if she was able to email me or download pictures that I would send her. We keep in touch, of course, but through the traditional mail system.
Most of you computer users know of and probably have used hotmail so this is not telling you anything new but it is important to stop and think for a moment and appreciate how hotmail helped the entire human race become so much more in touch with each other. People in America can have friends in Australia, South Africa and Japan whom they kept in touch with for years by first using hotmail and then later on, similar free email tools. We should all be grateful to hotmail for making my world a little more accessible.
It is also because of internet tools like hotmail that a lot of us were able to find jobs and get free deals on travel, or just find out the news from the part of the world that is of our interest. If you notice, many job postings today ask, some even require, that resumes get sent through email, that a cover letter gets copied and pasted, that you attach jpeg files and downloads if you have a portfolio.
It is also during difficult times - such as during war or other political change - that hotmail becomes really handy. You can get the latest news even before your friendly broadcaster gets to say his piece on television, you can find out live about events that concern you.