Thursday, 18 September 2008

The Headaches of Email

See the latest award on the left? It's from DJ Kirby, who is such a remarkable woman. She's so busy I don't know how she does it all: writing novels, working full time, raising a gorgeous son, being a wonderful wife to Chopper (I'm sure he agrees). I want to spread the love to all of you. Please click on the award and put it on your blog if you don't already have it.

And now on to a subject that has been on my mind since Bulldog's email last week. And the subject is... email. Something so wonderful and so dangerous. You can reconnect with old friends, keep up with distant friends and family, keep informed on subjects of interest. You can also get viruses that wipe out your entire computer or send email to the wrong recipient and wipe out relationships.

Have you ever done the latter? You're thinking of someone and possibly writing something uncomplimentary about them. You press send... and it goes to the person you were writing about. In the old days before the internet, I twice made this mistake in interoffice messages. I learned my lesson. Check before you send. My sister-in-law learned this lesson, too, a couple of years ago. I checked my email one day and discovered six retrieval attempts by her. My curiosity piqued, I found the offending email in which she wrote derogatory things about my husband and me. They weren't so derogatory that I couldn't laugh at the thought of her sitting there going "Oh shit" six times.

I've had email arguments with Frenemy and learned another lesson: don't respond negatively to a negative email unless you're up for a fight. And don't have the fight unless you're willing to go all the way with it.

I blocked Bulldog's email address following what I found to be really pugnacious emails from her. Before, I'd been getting 20-30 emails from her A DAY. All were political. Some were interesting. Some of you think this was a drastic measure. But I know the full extent of Bulldog's temper now and do not care to be on the receiving end of it. I blocked her email address but she is free to write me or call me. She has done neither.

Email's greatest advantage is also its greatest disadvantage: its immediacy. When you write a snail-mail letter, you have time to think about writing it and sending it. You make a conscious effort to write the address on the envelope. You put a stamp on it. Time tempers your temper. Impulsiveness is curbed. When you phone someone, it's more difficult to be angry or say cruel things.

The other disadvantage of email is its complete lack of privacy. I'm not up to date on privacy laws regarding the internet, but I think it would be hard to police. Someone gets an email sent by a friend to all her email list. She then forwards it on to all her email list, it then gets forwarded on, etc., etc. Hundreds of email addresses can end up on one of these forwarded emails. And then someone can write an email to one person and unwittingly send it to another.

As in the case of my sister to Bulldog.

My view is you have to accept that by sending an email, you are opening yourself up to all sorts of potential situations, including the one above, unless you stipulate that you do not want your email address passed along in any form. Maybe we're all a little lazy and sloppy about this. Maybe we all need to be more vigilant. After all, you don't know what's out there.


Expat mum said...

You also can't tell the tone of someone's voice, so there's always the chance that you read a perfectly innocent remark as completely unacceptable or something.
I keep telling my teenager that you have to be careful whenever you're out there on the Internet. Colleges are looking at Facebook contributions now when someone applies for a place. Job interviews and background checks also look into past Internet life. Very scary and sobering.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

expatmum: That's so true. And you do need to be so careful of what you put out there, even if you think you're anonymous, like me.

DJ Kirkby said...

You are most welcome...funny you should write this post as I recently had an email virus that wrte to all my contacts and then wiped them form my address book, so a lot of them now have the virus too as they followed the link in the email...sob. Modern technology, grrrr...