E-mail Etiquette: I beg of you, use some

It’s 2007, and there are still people out there for whom the Internet is a passing phase and e-mail in the same league as folded-up notes passed during junior high algebra.

At least, that’s what I am imagining, because frankly, when people don’t reply to e-mails, say, within 24-48 hours, I don’t have a lot of options on what to conclude, other than:

1) the person is rude, hates my guts, doesn’t have time for me

2) the person is unavailable due to emergency of some kind (power outage, vacation, death)

3) techncial glitch: this person didn’t get the e-mail at all – may require another e-mail, a phone call…?

So, I’m left staring at my inbox, wondering, which is it? What could it possibly be? Is this person okay? Did I offend? What’s wrong?

“Too busy” doesn’t work here. E-mail is too instant for that. Too busy to write back and say “I’m too busy to look at this and respond adequately – I’ll get back to you soon” – an effort that takes a few seconds of your time –  is too busy to be included in my life.

“Too flaky” also doesn’t work. Perhaps I am being unfair. For instance, I am chronically late – late at arriving to events, late with birthday cards, slow at picking up on subtle hints given off by the opposite sex, etc. People who are close to me and know me forgive this lateness of mine. Not so my mother. She holds every second a birthday or mother’s day card is late against me. And I can understand. She’s from a different era, when the promptness of physical mail served as an expression of respect and extension of familial feeling – every letter a reflection of the amount of regard residing in a person’s heart. For her, my flakiness is an excuse to be rude, not a personal glitch she’ll have to live with.

Well, like mother, like daughter: daughter of the digital age. I don’t care if you call me or write me on time or in time – but e-mail avoidance or neglect amounts to personal insult, whatever your intentions or lack of intentions might be. I am not going to hunt you down. Unless you are the victim of #2 or #3, I am not going to let it go, either. I am going to assume you are in category #1 unless you tell me otherwise.

Sound bitchy? It is. But I’m just sick of people not returning e-mails. Am I missing something??? Let me know.


3 Responses to E-mail Etiquette: I beg of you, use some

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Oh man, that email made me paranoid that I owe you an email!!! Uh oh. =)


  2. Sean Tubbs says:

    I often wait a week or so before I e-mail someone. I think people are “too busy” quite a lot. I know I am. E-mail is not instant. Sometimes you have to get it right. If that’s rude, well, then I’m very rude. But, I get about 100 e-mails each week, not counting spam, and it’s hard to weigh through it.

  3. Amanda says:

    mmm, actually you owe me an email!!!

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