The Electronic Message

Our family / business saw a major move in our email this past week, from Exchange to… <gasp> Gmail. Yes, we hopped on the Gmail bandwagon. (!!)

Such a change inevitably causes some stress, friction, hiccups, and a general emptiness (as in, WHERE’S MY EMAIL??). However, we appear to have gotten through it with minimal damage, very few missing items, and only a handful of duplicated contacts. We are all also still available for contact through our signature email addresses, and have not switched over to new and/or weird Gmail addresses.

My brother handed me an article this morning on email, and how misinterpretation of typed text has become somewhat of an epidemic in our culture. I don’t know why that should be – people always tell me I type exactly the way that I speak. Perhaps that’s not the case for everyone, or perhaps these people have been lying to me all my life. Either way, emails are often “taken the wrong way” and hurt feelings can be the outcome. This article, printed in the January 2012 edition of Entrepreneur, humorously suggested answering all emails in the style of Robert De Niro, with short, savvy, one-word answers. Like “Yes”, “No”, “Sure”, “Great”, and “Sorry”, and basically communicating to those with more fragile feelings to get over it. It’s email.

What I found most interesting was the final few paragraphs, which emphasized the “power of small messages of sincerity and hope”. The author used “Thank you” as an example – apparently, these two precious words have fallen out of favor with our speed-reading, busy, hurried, rushed generation, and one rarely sees them in email anymore. This, the author says, makes it a powerful message. Almost extravagent. It makes it memorable. And, unlike so many other things we say or type, these words are virtually impossible to misinterpret.

One more interesting comment from this email article:

“Not only should you assume that every email you send will get forwarded to someone else, you should assume that every email you send will someday be read aloud in a court of law. Discretion.”

Yikes. Food for thought, isn’t that?

Nothing is sacred. Someone is always watching.

Or listening.

Or reading.

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