Computers and the advent of the internet have literally changed the way we do everything: business, research, watch movies, manage music, play games, create and socialize.
Communication has never been easier. We can call (Skype), instant message or email anyone in any part of the world from any place we might be at any moment in time. Thanks to IT, information is more accessible, life is more convenient and the pace of progress has been accelerated dramatically .
There are, however, a few downsides to all these conveniences. For one, in regard to mores, all the good this technology enables can be matched equally with bad.
But, although technology may allow bad people to be bad in more and different ways, it isn’t inherently bad and it doesn’t change the nature of any person. Paul said there is nothing unclean or evil by nature (Romans 14:14) and he also said the nature of any thing is determined by the way a person views or uses it. In his words, “to the pure all things are pure, and to the defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure,” (Titus 1:15).
Personally, I won’t spend time smearing technology because of all the bad things people do with it. For my purposes I would rather focus on the good.
Another downside to internet technology has to do with manners and this we can address. Aside from all the malicious things people do on the net – which is not the point of this post – is the matter of etiquette, particularly with regard to email messaging, which has become a primary means of communication. Everyone is using it but like any other form of communication there are rules to follow if you want to make yourself understood. Following are only a few of the basics:
Respond immediately (The recipient)
This is my biggest pet peeve. I worry until I know my message has been received and often people don’t acknowledge my mail until I write again or call or write again.
Unlike snail mail, email is delivered in real time and senders are anxious to know their message has been received. Digital mail doesn’t have the same reputation for reliability as the US Post Service. So, the recipient’s first response to every message is to let the sender know the message got through.
A full response may not be immediately possible but it is fair to say, “I hear you.” If you need time to think about the request say so. A quick “Give me time to think about this, I’ll get back to you…” is the considerate response. The best way to know a message hasn’t been lost in cyber space is acknowledging receipt.
Actually, emailing is more like a phone call than a letter and no one answers the phone without saying hello followed by a response to every statement made. Think of email as a conversation that is never served well by long pauses.
Provide some detail (The recipient)
Even if you can’t give an exact answer immediately you should be able to give a time frame to when you can. That way the sender can note when they can expect a reply and can re-contact if necessary.
Explain yourself clearly (The sender)
All the time saved by using email is lost when we send unclear messages. Name specifically the thing you want or need. Say when it is required. Explain how and even by whom you think it can be accomplished. Give every possible detail about your request. Anticipate and answer every possible question the recipient might have. Unfortunately, the technology that enables us to send and receive emails, even though sophisticated, does not include clairvoyance. We are still required to be clear and hopefully concise.
Watch your grammar and spelling (Sender and Recipient)
You don’t need a degree in English Literature to write good emails. Anyone can reread a mail before sending and catch obvious mistakes: spelling, misplaced or left out words and improper punctuation. Most programs have spelling and grammar correcting features anyway. Use them.
Oh, and there is no problem with allowing lots of space between thoughts. We are not restricted by paper size and the more space you allow between thoughts the easier it is for your message to be understood. Help your reader out. Use good grammar (not perfect), spell correctly and put some white space in the text.
Daniel R of the Kansas City Chiefs Examiner submitted an illustration of an email he found annoying. This particularly type of email, he said, involved…
…Executives or anyone else for that matter who write massive emails that go on and on and on and on forever without using proper punctuation which makes your eyes go freaky on the screen and hey you know that my 45-year old eyes don’t work as well as they used to and I may have had to stare at the screen for eight hours a day anyway so the last thing that I want to look at is some monstrous block of writing that doesn’t include line breaks or white space or commas or periods and I tend to get lost half way through the thing anyway and then I forget what the heck the emailer was writing about so then I have to go back and re-read the stupid thing that was making my eyes go crazy anyway so unless the information within the e-mail can be contained in three SHORT paragraphs (three lines or less) then send out a paper memo, darn it all!
The things that make email brilliant – convenience and speed – are also the very things that can backfire on us. You can write and send off a blisteringly insulting letter in a matter of seconds and once you hit send you can’t take it back. Its easy to be misunderstood at the best of times. Even a short quick non-abusive message can be taken offensively.
You must avoid writing nasty notes in the first place and you must make an intentional effort write courtesy into every piece of correspondence. Use words like please, thank you, may I, could you, sorry and so on. Take “demand” out of the text and write “humility” in. It will make your mother proud and the recipient will be more inclined to respond helpfully.
By the way, the best approach to avoid accidentally sending the angry letter you wish you could have back is to write it in a different program than your email client. That way you let off steam without the danger of unintentionally hitting the “send” button.
Obviously, new technology has made communicating quicker but it hasn’t removed the need to think, carefully plan and review what you write. It also hasn’t removed to the need to be responsive and respectful, otherwise known as good old fashioned manners. Remember to write nicely.
What do you THINK!AboutIt?