30 November 2010

Email Chit Chat

CAN WE PLEASE stop with the email chit-chatting!

I admit that my conduct is not entirely unblemished in this area of e-communication, but I am making strides to correct my errors and I want everyone else to do the same. I could provide a multitude of examples of times where I have erred, but let must just highlight one recent email exchange with a colleague at work -- a colleague who will remain Rob nameless.
Me: Hi, blah blah blah blah it doesn't really matter, just pretend I had a question. 8:20pm
Nameless: Here's the answer to your question. Blah blah blah. 9:10pm
Me: That seems to clear it up. Thanks. 9:22pm
Nameless: No problem, always happy to help a colleague. 9:27pm
Me: That's very kind of you. 9:33pm
Nameless: Thanks. 9:42pm
Me: No problem. 9:43pm
Nameless: See you tomorrow. 9:44pm
Me: You bet. 9:45pm
Nameless: I have nothing else to say, but I'm replying to your email anyway. 9:46pm
Me: Great, now piss-off already. 9:47pm
OK, so the last two bits of dialogue are made up, but the rest is pretty accurate.

Why do we do this? Why do we waste time and space with idle chit chat that is of virtually no value? Here's why: because communicating with each other has become too easy. Gone are the days when we could find simple ways to avoid communicating with people. Gone are the days when we had walk over the the phone on the kitchen wall, pick it up, dial a number, worry that our friend's spouse will answer and we'll have to endure 30-45 seconds off excruciatingly painful pleasantries before we get to talk to the person we called to talk to (Hey Tracy, it's Jonathan. How's it going? Uh-huh. Oh, that's great. Ha! You're kidding. That's pretty funny. The kids are well? Really? Oh, that's too bad. So, it's some kind of stomach virus? Uh-huh. Really? Uh-huh. Well, I sure hope he gets better soon. Anyway, hey, is Steve there?), or fret about whether or not to leave a message. I used to create ways to avoid communicating just so I wouldn't have to use the phone!

But now it's so easy. Too easy. We just sit on the couch and type away while we watch TV or listen to our favorite songs on iTunes. It's almost as if we can do it without paying attention at all -- just a few quick keystrokes and we've created a whole new email, cluttering someone else's in-box in the process. Because it is so easy we just get carried away. Perhaps.

But it is time to stop. From now on I will fight the urge to hit the 'reply' button when there is nothing that needs to be replied to; I will resist the temptation to get one more joke in before I go to bed; and I will not succumb to the desire to show my gratitude by throwing around that extra 'thank you'.

If I want to chit-chat, I'll pick up the phone and call you.

1 comment :

Vic Heaney said...

You don't have time for that nonsense, Mr President.