Dearly Departed Dear


After railing against antiquated double spaces, I noticed that I seem to be hanging on to antiquated email pleasantries (thanks to this January Wall Street Journal article).

Considering that it’s almost Valentine’s Day, what better time to talk about the disappearance of the word “dear”…from emails anyway.

When I started my current job, every internal email I wrote began with the recipient’s name, a comma, a paragraph break and then I’d start…so very long-hand letter-writerly of me. However, most emails I received (either in reply or the first in a string) just started. It was an email sent to my address, obviously it was for me — I assume was the thinking. And I’ve slowly started doing that myself. After 2 years. It feels incomplete to just start…at least for business emails. To my friends and family, eh, I don’t need to name them.

And signature, too, is changing. People have stopped putting their names or a sign-off phrase, like the traditional “Sincerely” or more casual “Thanks.” But, at the same time, they don’t bother to delete their work signature block…which seems to be growing: Full name, title, business office phone, direct line, cell phone, address, website, quote, Facebook URL, Twitter handle, privacy policy…

I could make some snarky comment about not bothering to call you by name, but wanting to make sure you know, ad nauseam, who I am, or I could just yell “get off my lawn,” but I think it’s more about speed and ease than anything else. The emailers are composing and sending as quickly as possible. If the growing signature line wasn’t automatically added by the computer, it probably wouldn’t make it in the email at all.

Not sure I really have a point today…just pondering. Have a wonderful dear-filled Valentine’s Day!


5 thoughts on “Dearly Departed Dear

  1. My Dearest and Loveliest of Sisters Cam,
    Truthfully, I do believe the tone of one’s message, as well as status, most often dictates the the level of formality one chooses to use in an electronic correspondence.

    Most Humbly Your Sister,

    or – when I write a Dean about getting them to approve something, you best believe I cobble together formal letter format with email snazziness. Daily office drudgery between Institute staff… the email chain is undoubted 3 to 4 times as long as any one message.

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