eMails are Awkward

Hey Reader,

Just thought I’d shoot you quick note to say Happy Holidays and thanks for clearing Ted’s sidewalk the other day, he really appreciated it.

Best,

Ben

Wow. Was that uncomfortable or what? See, in a handwritten note, “Best,” “Regards,” “Yours,” etc all work. Probably because you just said a lot. In eMails, you might have just said a lot. But most of the time you’re saying something in a formal interaction, so it has to be an email, but is basically text length.

Awkward stuff. Sort of like unfurling a scroll, reading one sentence, and then re-rolling it.

I have experienced this emailing professors. So far most of my professors have been fellow art-humanities cronies, thus they like to be on a first-name basis with their students. Somewhere you are sighing while reading this, for you know what I have just figured out: this is only more awkward for a student. After years of “Mr.” and “Mrs,” you are now a fellow adult and thus should refer to them like some kind of little buddy or something. Thing is, your little buddy doesn’t hold a fraction of your GPA in their bare hands.

I’m a professor emailing a student.

Hmm. What greeting would make a young person think, “This professor sure is swell?” Let’s try, “Hey.” In fact, I’ll command/paste the “Hey” from the other twenty emails I sent this morning.

Okay. So far so good. Let’s take a drink of lukewarm coffee, since I’m in my middle age and no longer worry about the small things. Hm. First name. Now let’s sound really “Chill” and “Hip.” What’s good, Will? Listen brah, shoot me the assignment before I throw down on your grades. Reminds me of a DJ Khaled song actually. Heard it once when I was occupying wall street with some hipsters.

Nope. Nope. I’ll get up, stretch, look out the window. Will looks like a pretty dorky kid anyway. Hey Will. Please send me the assignment as your online submission did not work. Try to do this by the end of today.

How do I end? How the heck do I sign off? A big formal thing doesn’t work for an email. How about “Bye for now.” Nope. Again, nope. “Best,” is nice and vague. It worked for the last dozen. I’ll say “Dr. Jon,” just…you know what? Nope. Jon. I have a soul patch, after all. Send. Phew.

I’m a student emailing a professor. Possibly during another class.

Ugh. Ughhhhhhh. Ughghghhghg. Okay. Hello? Hi? Dear? Greetings? Salutations? Good day? Ugh. UGhhhhhh why can’t I just ask the guy?

What’s up? That could work. Seeing as he wanted us to call him by his first name and probably understands the implications. Also, he wears black jeans to class and made a joke about Back to the Future, so I might be in the right range here.

Never mind. Dear Professor…

eMails do not sound like normal human interaction. Written communication doesn’t in general. But these days, people only use eMails for official business. But they’re also used for quick back-and-forths, making the formal heading and ending almost unnecessary. For example: two people emailing to each other short sentences, but signing off each time. Very uncomfy stuff.

Just thought it was worth mocking emails today, hope you enjoyed!

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