Originally posted: February 2001
Many people who are reading this probably have some sort of e-mail access. Of those, I would imagine that many find that there are real benefits to e-mail, as opposed to regular postage (a.k.a. snail mail or land mail). I tend to agree that there are many benefits to e-mail. Yet I am also disgusted with the number of messages I receive in the form of junk e-mail and chain letters. I also dislike messages that don’t use proper grammar… this is the English language, not baby-talk. A third complaint I have is information that people send off without confirming the information or the source. Let me discuss this further.
Junk e-mail has been given the name, “Spam.” Spam, named after a favorite Hormel lunchmeat (not mine), is the solicited e-mail sent to a person who did not request it. It is used primarily for advertising. I like this as much as I like receiving junk mail in my regular home mailbox (or snail mail box, or whatever the hell you want to call it). But Spam is much worse. First of all, because it is free, it can be sent to a single recipient several times. The thing I hate even more, though, is that it tends to contain some of the worst material! Why on earth do I want to look at women with no clothes? I already know that I’m not getting any, so why bother showing me what I’m missing? Do you prefer I go postal (pun intended)?
Other things I’ve received in the form of Spam include messages that tell me that I can earn my degree online. This seriously bothers me because I have already earned two degrees the old-fashioned way… I fell asleep in class (especially in Bureaucratic and Organizational Theory). I’ve also received messages telling me that I can win a cruise to some tiny little island resort off the cape of Florida. Sure, just when I get back from visiting a third-world nation and realize that I prefer staying away from bottled water for a while (a long while, mind you), they suddenly find a need to tell me that I can win a cruise where I’ll be surrounded by water that’s unsafe to drink and mosquitoes that still carry malaria (thank goodness for that vaccine). If I want to go on a cruise, order a degree online, or purchase anything, I’ll look it up myself! I don’t need other people telling me what contests and such I should be entering or purchasing.
The other type of e-mail I really dislike are chain letters. These usually come from friends that have you on their happy little distribution list (which usually includes everyone they know that has e-mail). I find these as offensive as regular chain letters. First, you just wasted my time telling me that I can have good luck if I annoy a boat-load of people with the same rubbish you just sent me. Better yet, I will have bad luck if I don’t send it to anyone. Realistically, I don’t believe in luck. And those messages that tell me to forward them to exactly ten people now so I can see something cute on my PC are just as bad. If I want something cute on my PC, I’ll download a picture of some cartoon character. And again, why on earth do I want to annoy my friends the way you just annoyed me? Furthermore, if I want to fall in love with someone, well refer to my snippet on dating!
Second, these messages are usually the type that say I can find my true love or good luck if I send it to so many people… again, read my snippet on dating. I don’t want these messages, so don’t send them to me. If you need good luck, send them to someone else who gives a flying rip. If you need to fall in love, go to the bar and meet someone there… they’ll love you for the night.
Proper grammar in e-mail is another issue I have. Sure, in chat rooms many people don’t capitalize the first letters where they should or use proper punctuation (or any in most cases), which is understandable. But e-mail should be treated like a written letter. If I sent e-mail that had absolutely nothing but improper grammar and structure to a potential customer or employer, do you think they’d earn my respect? Of course not! They’d view me the same way I view others: What’s the highest grade this person completed, Kindergarten? I really lose much respect for people that don’t structure their letters properly, and I think that a letter, no matter how insignificant it may seem, shows much about a person’s personality. A quick and dirty letter usually means that the person does things to get it done, not for meaning or content. First impressions say much, and there’s no exception to e-mail. This type of message tells me that your thought processes are a jumbled… just the person I want to know!
Another problem in the ways of e-mail and grammar are what I call “this moment” messages. These are messages where someone writes:
hi brian just writing to let u know that i really liked meeting u in chat last nite and i want to hear from you again. i gotta go to school now so i can’t write more right now. see u bye
I mean, what the f**k is that supposed to mean to me? I don’t care if you’re running late for classes or your own wedding! I won’t even see the message for a few hours, so why should I care? Do you write messages like that to parents, siblings and cousins? I wouldn’t dare! I think I could compose something nicer in a couple of minutes:
I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed spending some time last night chatting with you and getting to know you. You seem like a very articulate and friendly guy, and you seem to show a great deal of respect for me. Thanks for having such a meaningful discussion with me. Please write soon.
Your stalking admirer,
TIme: 45 seconds. And don’t copy and paste this message to me… I’ll know that you read this (thank you) and copied and pasted the message (plagiarism). My point is that a decent message should not look like a bunch of thoughts scribbled on a bar napkin… If I want that, I’ll go to the freakin’ bar! All letters, no matter how simple, should show that you cared enough to send me something worth my time. I just simply refuse to read messages like that anymore.
My third problem with certain messages is that people tend to send things to me that are either hoaxes or that cannot be confirmed. I receive many messages that tell me about all of these dangerous viruses, and how all of the big companies confirm that they exist. Yet when I check out those websites, there’s absolutely no mention of such a virus. As an added step, I also check out some of the reliable anti-virus sites to check out this information… only to find out that the message I just received is really a hoax. I also receive scares from people about other things, such as government legislation that’s going to affect me in one way or another. Just like the virus hoaxes, I soon discover that these “reliable sources of information” are completely false.
What really bothers me is that people get scared over nothing and instantly send it off without confirming their sources. What is the big deal about going to a website to check it out for yourself? It takes an extra five minutes, and it prevents people from getting scared (or in my case, angry). I think that the ability to send information quickly makes some people quickly assume that they have reliable information without confirming the source of the information. Would you believe that the Budweiser Frog Screensaver scare is still circulating? This was confirmed a hoax by Symantec over a year ago!
E-mail can be a wonderful thing, but it has to be treated with as much respect and etiquette as a written letter. Also, it shouldn’t be junk-mail. I don’t like receiving that. And finally, I don’t care to hear about how lucky I can be; I already am the luckiest guy I know. I have everything I want: Respect, self-esteem, a decent job I love, shelter, food, and overall peace of mind. So I beg you, don’t send me that rubbish, don’t compose that rubbish, and most importantly, write something substantive yet simple. I don’t mind jokes, but lighten up on those as well. If you really want to earn my respect, you’ll follow these rules and adopt them when you compose any message (not just to me, but to everyone). And if you have problems with the English language, buy a book about learning the language (like “Grammar for Dummies”).
Finally, I don’t need people telling me about dangerous viruses and other useless information out there. I am already an insider (in a sense), and I am aware of what’s out there. I am also aware of what’s not out there. The things that don’t exist seem to be the things that I receive from sources that cannot be confirmed. Spend a couple of extra minutes and confirm it; provide the website link that does confirm it. And above all, if you can’t confirm it, don’t send it out!!