August 20th, 2009


E-Mail ettiquette: the ‘you go girl’ e-mail.

Something has been irking me that probably should not.  To wit: electronic messages that don’t say anything but “That’s Excellent!” or “Nice job!” or “Happy Birthday!”

Maybe it’s rude of me to be irked, but messages that have information other than that seem kind of pointless.  They are, in effect, like the ‘ACK’ in communications protocol, whose only content is ‘message received.’

Case in point, I’ve achieved some sort of critical mass on facebook where I received nearly 50 messages on my birthday.  On the one hand, awesome that you all noticed. On the other hand, as email programs will tell you sometimes, “message has no body.”

My tendency is to follow these guidelines 1) No blog post unless I have something to say I don’t hear anyone else saying 2) No two word e-mails, unless I’m answering a direct question. 3) No e-mailing someone to see why they didn’t answer my e-mail.

Does this make me seem uncommunicative? Maybe.  But I’m a computer programmer, I’m a big fan of the ‘no news is good news’ theory: the nominal behavior of any system is to be silent unless it has a problem or news.  I think what people are trying to do is to convey a one bit message — I acknowledge you.  I enjoy being acknowledged but somehow wish for more.

So hey, for all y’all. If you don’t hear from me, assume I still love you and think you’re the most. Except for you, and you, and you. You know who you are.

PS I was actually kind of touched by the person who e-mailed me yesterday and apologized for not sending me a facebook ‘Happy Birthday!!!’  Somehow,  apologizing for not doing something that I’m not sure I wanted him to do in the first place feels better than if he’d gone and done it.  Confused? Me too!

Originally published at Do My Eyes Look Scary?. You can comment here or there.