Top Five Email Pet Peeves

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You know how people bemoan the lost of the written word, saying things like, “man, people never write real letters anymore”? Well, I mourn its decline as well, not only for the nostalgia factor, but also because handwritten letters were a far less grating medium than email. Seriously, think of the letters people used to write: meticulously scripted in nice penmanship, well thought-out, and meaningful. Now ponder 95% of the emails you receive today: hastily composed, strewn with typos, and often – even though we know you check your email constantly and can respond right away – sent days late. Sometimes email bums me out. Here are my five biggest annoyances:

  1. Improper Use of “Reply All”: By far, my number one pet peeve. Use of “reply all” has always seemed clear-cut to me: if you have something the group needs to hear, hit “reply all.” If you’re answering with information only the original sender needs or – insert giant shudder here – making a stupid inside joke, just hit “reply.” It’s that simple. Incidentally, improper use of “reply all” breeds another email pet peeve of mine: “enraged use of reply all to make a point about people being stupid for replying all.” We’ve all seen this, right? Someone does a dumb “reply all,” and some jackass writes back, “Hey, can you please stop replying all?” And, may God help everyone on the email chain if someone even worse then responds with, “Idiot, why are you replying all to tell us to stop replying all?” Just like that, I lose my faith in humanity.
  2. Overuse of Emoticons: I’ll admit it – I too am guilty of this. It stems from the fact that I find email to be a rather harsh medium; things that seem lighthearted in person suddenly appear cutthroat when typed out in black and white. So, when I have to say something direct or demanding, I often tack a little smiley face onto the end of the sentence. It’s my way of saying, “look, I know this sounds harsh, but we’re still BFFs, okay?” Deep down, however, I know this is terribly unprofessional 🙂
  3. Failure to Answer a Direct Question: This one enrages me. Here’s why: I’m very organized, so when I write an email, the email reflects that. For example, if I have two questions for you, I’ll write an intro and then actually bullet point my questions. I emphasize that phrase to show that the questions are always spelled out for the recipient. They’re not hidden in the middle of a big paragraph; they’re not easily overlooked. They’re right there, in your face. You can’t miss them! And yet, people often make like James Joyce and deliver up a stream-of-consciousness reply that details every silly thought they have on the subject without answering the questions I have painstakingly laid out for them. This one infuriates me because it’s disrespectful: the writer knows what I want to know and deliberately ignores it, essentially saying, “Look, what I’ve got to say is far more important than your concerns.”
  4. Email Forwards: Remember when, back in 4th grade, you and your friends would send each other those silly email forwards that said things like, “If you don’t forward this to 10 people in the next 10 minutes, you will die”? And then remember when you got to 5th grade and realized those email forwards were completely silly and nobody would actually die? And then remember how you became an adult and discovered that some people still forward email chains? I can recall exactly one chain email (out of infinity) that I’ve laughed at; the rest are almost immediately consigned to the trash bin.
  5. Inappropriate Font Style and Color: Look, I know you’re a beautiful, unique snowflake, but perhaps a professional environment isn’t the place to express said individuality. It baffles me when people use crazy fonts or bright colors for their emails, particularly when they use some sort of script-y font that I have to strain to read. It reminds me of how I was when I was first introduced to Microsoft Word, back in, like, 1995 at the age of 9. Look! I can jazz up this school paper by bolding the font and making it chartreuse and using Comic Sans and even right justifying the paragraph! This new computer machine is so fancy! Rein it in, people. Rein it in.

Whew. I feel better having all that off my chest. Agree? Disagree? What are your email pet peeves?

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2 thoughts on “Top Five Email Pet Peeves

  1. I hate it when people use the Cc: instead of Bcc: for e-mails that should go to a group, but where none of the recipients know each other. Not only will I be bombarded with Reply All e-mails, people who I don’t know now have access to my e-mail address. Guh-reat.

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