As instantaneous and seemingly convenient technology has made communication, it has also added an element of angst.
For some of us anyway. Us actually meaning me.
Decades after the introduction of email, I’ve finally almost mastered the art of not sending an inappropriate response to the wrong person included on a group email.
Years ago I had characterized an individual as a part of the male anatomy and sent that message to the alleged appendage and not to the friend who had forwarded me the message. Since then I’ve learned to quintuple check the “to” field after I’ve created an entirely new email in response.
But quandaries remain. For example, what is an appropriate email salutation?
On more than one occasion I had been accused of being unfriendly or aloof for the way I started an email.
Typically emails from me started with a synopsis followed a little more detail in the body. Example:
Subject: Weekend coverage
Body: Can’t make it. Scheduling conflict.
Evidently there should have been a greeting and more involved detail. But my inclusion of hello made it seem inauthentic or too formal while the use of the recipient’s name made it seem as if I were naming them in a legal action.
Hi! made it sound as if I were an exuberant cheerleader but Hi followed by a name struck the right balance of friendliness without being too familiar (unless it was someone with whom I had never had contact).
Of course, having gotten past the greeting there is then the closing to consider. Sincerely? Thank you? Yours truly? Thanks? Cheers? Regards?
The nuances of selecting the write phrasing in just the introduction and end of a message can be overwhelming. And it’s not just limited to emails.
With text messages the exchange is initiated by the sender not the recipient and so, to a degree, the message is an interruption. An intrusion. How then to begin? Hi (hello, hey, greetings?) sorry to interrupt but...?
Or in a text does one get right down to business and forego the niceties of a greeting? If so why is it acceptable there and not in an email setting? And how does one close a text message.
For years I’ve managed to end my texts without a goodbye or a thank you or talk later (informal or otherwise) but am I breaking some protocol and have those who get messages from me just given up?
And is my refusal to respond with emoticons — the makeshift faces created by typing in different punctuation marks — an indication that I’m a curmudgeon or am I simply stating that I’m not a 6-year-old who conveys how he is feeling with happy and sad faces?
This age of being connected with the touch of a button is perplexing and exhausting at times.