Communication breakdown

While my students constantly assure me that “nobody reads e-mail” (preferring instead to rely on instant messaging and texting for their conversations) the amount of focus given to e-mail and its proper usage continues. From today’s NY Times:

‘Yours Truly,’ the E-Variations

What’s in an e-mail sign-off? A lot, apparently. Those final few
words above your name are where relationships and hierarchies are
established, and where what is written in the body of the message can
be clarified or undermined. In the days before electronic
communication, the formalities of a letter, either business or
personal, were taught to every third-grader; sign-offs — from
“Sincerely” to “Yours truly” to “Love” — came to mind without much

But e-mail is a casual medium, and its conventions are
scarcely a decade old. They are still evolving, often awkwardly. It is
common for business messages to appear entirely in lower case, and many
rapid-fire correspondences evolve from formal to intimate in a few

Although salutations that begin messages can
be tricky — there is a world of difference, it seems, between a “Hi,” a
“Hello” and a “Dear” — the sign-off is the place where many writers
attempt to express themselves, even when expressing personality, as in
business correspondence, is not always welcome.


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