Email is a way to bypass the crowded room for something more intimate. When everything else is parading naked through the living room of your mind, email is politely waiting outside for a personal invitation. This is both good and bad when you’re trying to connect with the person on the other side of the door. They open it, or they don’t.I'm not going to muse about how accurate this comparison might be, but I am going to use it as justification for one of my most prominent pet peeves: email without humanity. If email is truly best when it's a personal message, the worst offense a sender can commit is to fail to identify themselves. Here's an example: I recently got an email from my local recycling organization containing only the following text.
I had requested some additional recycling bins, so this wasn't totally unexpected. The greeting is nice, but still, where's all the context? I can only suspect this message was written by a real, living human because the email address had the usual first initial plus last name format.Good AfternoonWhich apt do you live in @ [my street address, spelled incorrectly]
Even worse, some senders work under the pretense of a single organizational identity. This means they sign their emails with phrases like "Office Assistant" rather than any useful identifier. In short, they dehumanize themselves.
Email may offer convenient intimacy (at least, far more than whatever modern social networking provides) but this implied intimacy highlights situations where it's completely disregarded. Yes, I'm complaining about a decades-old form of communication. Yes, I'm venting. Even so, there's a lesson to be learned here: any medium of communication can lose its unique benefits without the right context.