Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Deadly Email

"The pen is mightier than the sword" Edward George Bulwer Lytton (1803-1873), an English novelist, wrote this for the first time in 1839.

The written word (especially email) is often misunderstood because it lacks tone of voice, body language, facial expression and opportunity for clarification. A hastily-written email can do irrepairable damage to a relationship because of this. Careless "forwarding" can also be detrimental to relationships.

I receive between 30-50 emails a day. My email provider screens out over 100 additional emails per day that are considered to be spam (unsolicited advertising or vulgar content). I spend about an hour on the computer just to go through that number of emails. In the past 15 years that I have used a personal computer, the amount of unwanted emails has skyrocketed.

A common pet peeve of email users is when others forward items to them that they have not taken time to verify and sometimes have not even taken time to read. For each of these people, if I considered them a friend, I have verified, from a reputable source, the accuracy or inaccuracy of what they have sent and have let them know the results of my research and recommended they verify facts before forwarding items.

I have done this with both family members and virtual strangers. Some of them were quite embarrassed because they had sent email hoaxes to their entire mailing list. Most were grateful to find out about the places you can go on the internet to verify the content of these often sensational emails. Based on my experience, nearly every forwarded email of a sensational nature was documented as untrue.

I did this with someone today and they were deeply offended. I chalk it up to stress and ignorance. Relationships deserve better than raised hackles over false emails. Don't forward stuff. Don't waste the time of others. Even if it seems "helpful" remember that there are only two occasions when your opinion should be offered: when it's asked for and when it's a matter of life or death.

I assume if you are reading my blog, you are "asking for" my opinion.

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