Thursday, December 6, 2012

Email Habits of the Tightly Wound

Hey, help me figure out if I'm way off here or what.  I never can tell with these kind of things.  I'm so sensitive that when the BART guy in the glass cube is a little rude to me when I ask him something I always go away like "Why does the BART guy hate me so much?  What did I do?" 

So today's problem in navigating our Strange and Complicated World has to do with emails and texting.  I know these people - NOT YOU, OTHER PEOPLE - who are what we might call Bad Responders.  That is, they're not so great at responding to emails and/or texts.  So I'm not sure if they're just not living up to my extremely demanding standards or if they're just being rude and I have to get used to it.

Let's baseline this thing first.  Here's my rule: if you email me, and the subject line isn't something like FWD: FWD: FWD: RE: RE: RE: RE: STATIC ELECTRICITY CAN KILL, I will most likely respond.  So EXAMPLE let's say you send me an email that's something like "Hey, check out this video of a cat watching a video of another cat."  Even if it's inane, which is totally is, and even if I've seen it before, which I assuredly have, I will still take 23 seconds and email you back and say 'That video is whack. You have to check out this video of an anteater watching a video of a marmoset, that shit is dope."

These people I'm talking about are at the other end of the spectrum.  Unless your email or text is something like "HEY WERE YOU ABLE TO GET THAT KIDNEY DONATION FOR ME I'M SCHEDULED FOR SURGERY IN 1 HR", it's likely that they will not respond. NOT 100% OF THE TIME, just most of the time. Sometimes they surprise me and respond. Life is mysterious.

So let's run through some scenarios and you tell me if a response is warranted or not.

SCENARIO #1: I email you and attach an article that is highly relevant to your interests and say "hey, whilst perusing the Internet I came across this article that is highly relevant to your interests and thought I'd pass it along."  MY RULE: I at least say "Hey, thanks."  Is a response called for in this situation?

SCENARIO #2: I email you and say "You're not going to believe who I ran into this weekend.  Our mutual friend Z.  He asked after you and I told him you were busy preparing for your backpacking trip through Ecuador/playing Call of Duty/maintaining your heroin habit. He's doing well."  MY RULE: Email response along the lines of "Huh, interesting, glad to hear Z has pulled himself together."  Is a response called for in this situation?

SCENARIO #3: I email you and say "I'm heading out to the bake sale/beer party/poetry slam on Saturday, if you want to come along."  MY RULE: This demands at least a "yay" or "nay."  Is a response called for in this situation?

What do you think, Internet?  Thanks for helping to calibrate my neurosis.

4 comments:

FineWashable said...

Each scenario elicits a response. At least a, "Hey dildo, Thanks for the useless information. Stop bugging me with your stupid emails."But more appreciated is a, "Hey thanks...".

Along the same lines is failure to RSVP. I've had 2 different friends lately who are horrible at RSVPing, both complain about how someone didn't RSVP to his/her event.

GG said...

I think a response is required in all those situations, so
I agree with you 100%. The only reason I wouldn't respond is because (1) I wanted the person to take the hint that I'm not that interested in maintaining a relationship with him/her (acquaintances or professional contacts with whom I don't want to become friends), or (2) I was trying to passive-aggressively convey that they email me way too frequently and I just don't have time to respond to all their emails (like my mother).

That said, I think some people don't like to just send a "thanks!" and fully intend to compose a more thoughtful and comprehensive response later, but then forget because they are disorganized and don't have a system for flagging email for later response. Which I think is annoying in itself, but whatever.

Bottom line: YOU ARE RIGHT 100%

Tamagosan said...

Yes on all three. I can't imagine your faithful readers would be biased at all, but of course I agree with you. The RSVPing in particular is disturbing, but it all falls into the continued demise of manners. I'm OK with cross-media RSVPing (like text me after I e-mail you) but tell me if you're coming!

Circa 2003, my pops and I instituted a NRN (No Reply Needed) tag on any e-mail that was just a link or a heads up and didn't need a reply. We also agreed that it was OK to end our e-mails with just the first letters of our names instead of typing it all out, so we're basically pioneers all around.

That said, I'm guilty of putting off longer responses (like to old friends) and taking forever to reply. The guilt of not keeping in touch compounds and the final e-mail is dripping with apologies, so everyone loses. It's my recurring New Year's resolution, one bullet point on a long list entitled Be A Better Person.

Michael Strickland said...

Sorry not to join the party, but I'm going to go with "too tightly wound up." Whenever the BART person in the little glass cubicle is rude to me when asking a question, my thought is always, "Why are you such an asshole when you're doing such an easy job and are way overcompensated?" rather than "What did I do wrong?"

Not returning emails? Everyone has their own rhythms, and you should never, ever take it personally when somebody doesn't respond. That way lies too many hurt feelings and eventual madness. You have been warned.