Thursday, April 07, 2016

Email Etiquette

I remember vividly the first time we got a computer. It was just as the internet started to become a thing in Egypt. I was 10 years of age. My father came to pick me up from school which was very exciting because usually it was either my mother or the family driver. We went to my father's office and there we met with a weird computer engineer called Medhat. He showed me how to operate the computer and the first program that we used was a digital atlas called PC Globe. My father had also bought a printer with the computer so we printed a map. I think it was Africa's map, but I am not sure. It took about 10 excruciatingly noisy minutes to print.
The internet was only available for two hours a day, and so it was split 50-50 between my father and us(the kids). I had to share the 50% with my sister, which didn't always go well. Our eldest sister was not very interested. She believed it was a bubble or a phase and soon we would grow out of it. Ha!
Thus began my love affair with the world wide web, mainly because of disney,com. Way back when the website had mini-cartoons, comics and many other entertaining things. Now it is all commercial. Yes, even the internet was better in the past, kids.
When it came to email, my father taught me how to write and respond to emails. He treated them as he did his business letters and faxes. He taught me to be prompt, polite and formal. It was the only way I knew how to write emails until maybe college.
Hence, I carried with me the sense of urgency that was instilled in those who write regular letters, but with email. The response had to be right away. Why? Because my father said so. And I did. Until this very day, I still get very antsy when I have an email in my inbox. I must respond, says the etiquette bot in my brain. Do it, do it NOW. This transferred to all social media and messaging services. I get a message, I respond right away. It has nothing to do with the message, and more to do with my obsessive thinking. Therefore, I appear too eager.
The only times I don't respond right away is when I am baking or on vacation or I want to discourage someone from communicating with me. So, instead of right away, I wait about 15 minutes and respond in short bursts of conversation. Rarely do I completely ignore someone. They have to have really pissed me off.
My mail-era etiquette does not go well with the current times. You are not supposed to respond right away because you are busy have the best time of you life. You are busy making money, making kids, building a career and being an awesome human being. Sure, why not? However, I find it really hard to believe that in this day and age, someone is too busy to respond to an email or text right away. Unless you are deep in the Borneo jungle, there is internet access almost anywhere. Secondly, we all procrastinate in some way or another and we take our phones everywhere. Hence, whenever I get the occasional person who tells me they are "too busy", I just take the hint and realize that they are giving me the brush off. It's fair enough.
The thing is I will still respond right away, because that is how my father raised me.

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