Etiquette on proper e-mail love
There are two types of people – consistently eloquent, meaningful, productive e-mailers, and everyone else. I consider myself to be a card-carrying member of the former group. For better or worse, I’m marrying an honorary ambassador of the latter.My fiancé and I met at a debate, although it was through e-mail that our relationship initially flourished. Before our first date, we exchanged numerous online messages; however, our plans were ultimately postponed because of an injury I suffered minutes before he arrived to pick me up. Later that same day, he e-mailed several alternative accident scenarios (e.g. “Ivana Trump did this to me as we wrestled for the last python handbag in Prada”) so I wouldn’t embarrass myself explaining to people that my arm was in a sling, because I actually hurt it slipping on a linoleum floor.
As our romantic attachment grew, so did the frequency of our electronic correspondences. Sometimes I found loving notes online when I powered up my computer in the morning. We often stole moments during our workdays to swap one-liners through cyberspace. Website links were passed back and forth. “Just-to-say” messages turned up abundantly on both our computer screens.And then as we became even closer, the e-mails started tapering. It didn’t happen all of a sudden; his name just appeared more sporadically in my inbox. Some messages I transmitted went unanswered for hours, if not entirely. On occasion, replies to my what-do-you-want-to-do (for dinner) (this weekend) (after work) e-mails never materialized. Oftentimes, he didn’t click the links I sent him to articles I thought he’d enjoy. The sweet-nothing messages I wrote increasingly went unacknowledged.But his feelings for me didn’t wane. On the contrary, as the cement on our bond dried, he simply pressed play on his life routine that had been all but paused in the first several months of our courtship. Which meant he no longer had abundant time during each day to play cyberspace footsie with me. That was the point at which I realized we’re members of opposite tribes.
I and people like me instantly reply to e-mails and expect the same in return. His clan finds no fault with making a phone call in place of an e-mail response. Members of the tribe to which I belong always properly inform messaging partners in advance of terminating a back-and-forth. His people tend to abruptly abort exchanges without advance notification (oftentimes leaving people on the other ends of the terminals sitting and waiting minutes or hours for answers). When posed with a question, my ilk will wait a day to respond only after informing the asker that the response merits a 24-hour waiting period, whereas his people leave questions unanswered for indefinite periods with zero explanation. My kind creates folders in our inboxes to save memorable e-mails so that we can include our first ever exchanges in our wedding scrapbooks. His class deletes each message before they reach the period of the last sentence. We would never respond to a tender e-mail with anything other than the same sentiment in return. They’ve been known to say, “Me, too” in lieu of “I love you.”To be fair, though, my fiancé lacks a great affection for most things electronic. He got his first cell phone just over a year ago (and proudly tells anyone who asks that his particular model was wildly popular in 1999). He prefers analog anything to digital everything. He doesn’t understand the art of blind copying someone on an e-mail and has been known to accidentally hit “reply all” at inappropriate times.
But while his electronic communication may be inconsistent and at times slipshod, I’ll take him, his (practically) rotary-dial cell phone and the affectionate messages he leaves on my voicemail six times daily over another e-mail geek from my breed any day. Besides, we only have one computer at home, and if we had to fight over who gets more time on it, he’d lose in a heartbeat.E-mail eloquent, meaningful, productive questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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