Friday, November 27, 2009

Email pet peeves part I

Email is a wonderful thing. At least I think it is. Sometimes.

Remember in the days back before email. Remember writing "letters?" And then putting them in these things called "envelopes" with these "postage stamps" on them? The younger imaginary readers may not have experienced these primitive vestiges of the dark ages, but to us of the eld, they were once daily parts of life. A big part of going to college, or having your friends go off to college, was the letters. You wrote home. Home wrote back. Home could mean family, friends, former coworkers, your dog Skippy, and so on. Well probably not Skippy, in my case. I still have a few boxes of letters that I kept from those early college years. The letters were like an interpersonal diary - a telling of my life, and the life of my friends, all woven together over weekly to quarterly installments. It was kind of cool.

So, do you remember those days? Think of them fondly, dear readers, because they are DEAD. Long dead. Now we have email. What used to take hours takes minutes. You don't buy a stamp, you hit send. You don't compose a letter, you jot a few lines. You can still enclose pictures, but now you can enclose many, many pictures. If you're actually up on popular computer culture, and you facebook or whatever you don't actually have to send emails even. You just update your facebook page. Weird, I tell ya.

But there are loads of things I like about email. Maybe some day I'll write them down. If I'm feeling particularly sadistic and want to bore you all. But there are a few things I don't like about email. Thing number one, and our subject for today: read and receive receipts. If you haven't hit this feature yet (how could you not?), it's when an email sender sets some settings to automatically notify them when you receive the email and also when you open it to read. From a sender point of view, this can be quite handy. You don't have to wonder "Did they get that email?" cause you know it. So it makes perfect sense. But on the receiving end it bugs the crap out of me. To me it feels like an invasion of privacy. You sent me a message. Ok, fine, thanks. Now get the crap out of my life until I reply. Outlook always asks if it's ok to send a read receipt and I always say "hell no." I just hate internet big brother watching over my shoulder to know what I read and when. Maybe one reason I don't like that feature is that I'm a procrastinator and having an announcement of the time I READ an email that can then be compared to the time I REPLIED to the email can be quite embarrassing. I'd prefer to procrastinate in the privacy of my own home, thank you very much, and if I've got read receipts flowing from my own home to your computer, the privacy of my own home is very much lacking.

So, if you are one who routinely sends things with the read receipt requested option on, and you email me, dont' be offended when you never get a receipt reply. Or if you DO get a reply, I'll send the reply read receipt requested, which you can then acknowledge with a read receipt of your own, which I will acknowledge and on and on we go down through the infinity of time and Comcast digital. You see where this could lead? Anarchy, my friends, anarchy. Best to just not use that feature, I think.

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