Thursday, February 24, 2011

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People With Email: 10 Easy Points

"How to Be a Jerk in E-mail"
Eric Griffith, (February 23, 2011)

" 'Friends' are for social networks. But e-mail is for everyone, even enemies, frenemies, family, and co-workers, of course. E-mail remains the killer app of Internet communications for one reason: you can't really do anything wrong in e-mail. Seriously, follow these ten tips and you might end a marriage or two, lose your livelihood, or look like a complete and utter fool, but that won't be your fault. It's e-mail, where anything goes, you can do what you want, and so-called 'netiquette' doesn't apply. Right?

"Uh...okay. If you buy that, then keep reading, [insert insult here]. We're sure you'll take it all to heart.

"1. Never BCC
"You should always put every e-mail address in the "To" field, especially if you're mailing to your entire address list—and that goes double if you're at work. CC'ing folks only makes them feel unworthy. And using the BCC, well, that's just plain rude. Why not put it all out there? Don't you want all your recipients to be friends with each other?...

Eric Griffith wrote "How to Be a Jerk..." with tongue firmly in cheek, and the Lemming thoroughly enjoyed it. Your experience may vary.

And now, for those who need help being jerks, here's a sample of that advice:

"...2. Always 'Reply All'
"Remember that Super Bowl commercial where the guy was so upset that he might have done a 'Reply All?' Such nonsense. It's best to click 'Reply All' every single time, just to be sure you're covered. That way no one is ever left out. It's particularly important when you write a long-winded diatribe about the monumental stupidity of a cubicle neighbor…or your boss.

"3. Write a Book
"Do not keep to just one topic in an e-mail. What a waste. It's always best to fit in as many bullet points as possible. Better yet, eschew bullets for several paragraphs on several topics and clump them together into one gigantic ├╝ber-missive. The greater the length, the more details, the more topics covered in the e-mail, the better. Bonus: Make the subject line of the e-mail a rant in and of itself....

Actually, the Lemming has used bullet points in emails, and memos: but the 'pick a topic and stick to it' advice is sound. Or, if you're trying to alienate folks: Go ahead and ramble.

Wait a minute - - - the Lemming rambles at times does that mean - - -?

Back to the 'be a jerk' article:

"...4. Don't Sweat Infection
"Sure, others may be chicken about getting a computer virus, but you're not as cowardly and stupid as them, right? Forgo the installation of anti-malware software and feel free to download and click those attachments. All of them. Especially the ones in spam. What's the worst that could happen? Maybe you will actually get some free 'enhancement' pills.

"5. Attach Big Files
"Got a fantastic digital photo of your sleeping cat you want to share?..."

And that's just the first page. Here's what you'll find on the second, with the occasional interjection by the Lemming:


Yes, some folks still use ALL CAPS. or not capsatall and minimalpunctuationmaybeitsbeingcreativelikeeecummings

"...7. Make Esoteric Signatures..."

Eric Griffith explains, with a picture. One that's worth, in the Lemming's opinion, a thousand words:

"...8. Pass On Problems..."

The Lemming expected something about those memorable folks who inform you, in clinical detail, what the doctor discovered during their last colonoscopy, or why they never eat meat. Instead, the topic was those wonderful opportunities the Lemming finds now and again: heads of state who need the Lemming's help to move their fortunes around; work-at-home opportunities; that sort of thing.

"...9. Spread Out Your Bad Self..."

On this one, the Lemming agrees: to an extent. One email address is best, for anyone who's serious about getting replies. On the other hand, sometimes it's better to have a 'personal' and a 'business' account - and that's another topic or two.

"10. Write When Enraged..."

The Lemming loves a particular bit of this point: "...You need to get your lizard-brain thoughts down quickly, without thinking it through. It's called catharsis, people, look it up!..."

"Lizard-brain thoughts:" That's a wonderful way to describe those knee-jerk, instant reactions that most of us learn to control somewhere before adolescence. In the Lemming's opinion, of course. Then there's that word, "catharsis." The Lemming remembers those balmy days after wig pickers started saying that 'catharsis' was good for you - and before others noticed the mess that catharsis spills make.

Moving on.

The article is fun, a fairly fast read, and full of fanciful philosophizing. Fraught, in fact.

Enough of that.

For what it's worth, the Lemming suspects that quite a few folks are sensible - and don't clog email with what Eric Griffith described. It's like the fellow at a gathering whose voice has two settings: loud; and overbearing.

The Lemming will skip the usual hand-wringing about the appalling state of communication skills and emotional maturity online. You've probably heard it all before.

Besides, it's a beautiful day here in central Minnesota: and the Lemming's not going to rant.

Well, maybe just a little.

Here's something the Lemming ran across, back in 2008:

I found it on a page whose title is 'the disordered clipboard of Giuseppe Mazza,' except it's in Italian. Not the cartoon, the title.


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