EIGHINGER: Treat email with respect; DON'T YELL AT PEOPLE - Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois & Missouri News, Sports

EIGHINGER: Treat email with respect; DON'T YELL AT PEOPLE

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Unfortunately, I remember the day like it was yesterday and it will always be filed under the "10 dumbest things Steve has ever said or done."

Well, at least the "said" part.

The exact date escapes me, but it was in the early 1990s when personal computers were more of an oddity than a requirement.

My son, Geoff, had recently received a PC as a present from my mother-in-law -- a huge, box-shaped thing with one of the old small screens. Geoff, in high school at the time, was into that type of stuff, so he thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Over the ensuing weeks and months, Geoff continued to show me how the new-fangled Internet worked. I just shook my head.

"This is just a fad. You'll be selling this computer contraption a year from now," I kept telling him.

Yep, I kind of missed that one.

Another offshoot of the budding Internet craze back then was something called "email."

"Are you kidding me?" I would repeatedly ask Geoff. "Who would ever use this instead of writing a letter or making a phone call? It's ridiculous."

Umm ... I kind of missed on that one, too.

And for the record, I never thought smartphones, texting, Tweeting or HDTV would catch on, either.

Of all the descendants of the Internet, the one that helped transform our world the most was email. Before texting and Tweeting and whatever else is out there, there was email. Email is now like an old friend you feel comfortable telling everything, or the friendly uncle who always brings you a present when he visits. It's always a good day when that old friend visits or the friendly uncle shows up in your inbox ... errr, at the front door.

Surprisingly, email remains a viable contributor to our e-world. Equally surprising is how so many people screw up email. I don't mean any of the technical amenities like attaching a photograph (mildly difficult) or a document (next to impossible). I'm talking about simple email etiquette.

Do the following irritate you? Or are you guilty of these email crimes yourself?

º DO NOT TYPE IN ALL CAPS. That's considering "e-yelling," designed to reflect an emphasis on shouting. All caps are also harder to read.

º On the other hand, using all lower-case letters can be equally annoying and simply looks lazy. I'm guilty of this one when corresponding with friends. I also need to work on using complete sentences in my emails, and I need to get the spell check fixed. Either that, or I'm going to get sent to email jail some day.

º Just because you don't type in all caps or lower-case letters and your writing is grammatically correct does not give an email license to be long and overdrawn. Nothing is more frustrating than having to wade through an email message that is way longer than it needs to be. In most cases, concentrate on just one subject per email. Attention spans aren't what they used to be in this fast-paced world.

Email is our friend. Treat it with the respect it deserves. It's going to be with us for awhile.

So I'm told.

-- seighinger@whig.com/221-3377

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