Sunday, November 25, 2007

The effect of e-mail on people's communication skills

E-mail has given us more freedom to communicate. We “talk”, to people that we have not seen in years, and might not even be able to carry on a face to face conversation with. It has also made people lazy. We send one to the person in the next cubical instead of getting up and talking to them. As in the second sentence of this paragraph the over use of quotes can be attributed to e-mail use. People even uses air quotes with their fingers to make a point, and they are not even used for their original purpose.

E-mail has given way to less face to face interaction in the workplace. One such example of this is in my mother’s workplace. Her boss would rather she ask questions via e-mail, instead of walking across the hall to ask him face to face. A question that would take less than a minute to answer, could take all day because they have to wait for the answer. If the answer is not clear then another is bounced back and forth until they answer is clear.

Sometimes e-mails can be misunderstood because there is a lack of tone in the written word. People will take things the wrong way because people write short and to the point. Instead of elaborating say what they mean and it can seem a little harsh. If you look back at letter writing, you will see how it was a true art form. This has been lost to the present generation because of the overuse of e-mail. Some e-mail etiquette sites even say to be short and to the point and that it is not a spoken conversation. If you look at an e-mail as this you will not really be able to communicate as well as if you take your time to get your point across with more information it is needed.

Junk e-mails can be anything from poems to a new form of urban legend. People really waste their own time and the people that they send it to by forwarding junk mail. This has become such a problem that companies have implemented policies to ban the practice. Take a look at your inbox and see how many junk e-mails that you receive in a twenty-four hour period. This is not Spam but mail that is forwarded to you someone that you know.

Spam is one of the worse things that have come because of e-mail. When you sign up on website beware, you e-mail address is more than likely going to be sold to another company and you will be spammed. Looking in my spam folder in less than two hours I had thirty spam e-mails. You have to look through them just to make sure that regular one has not slipped though. There are ways to avoid spam by using a disposable e-mail address that can be deleted if it starts getting a lot of spam. These types of e-mail addresses are available through most services.

People’s communication skills have really slipped back to high school when everything had an acronym. This has led to poor grammar because people use more slang. Some of the most commonly used acronyms are, Laugh Out Loud (LOL), Be Right Back (BRB), For Your Information (FYI), and By The Way (BTW). It can be very annoying if you do not know the meaning of the acronym that is being used. If we learn to look at e-mails as just another way to write a letter and get back to using proper grammar and etiquette instead of acronym and smilies [ :-) ] we would be better understood.

Bad spelling has become rampant because people have come to depend on spell check too much instead of making sure that they are spelling something correctly. Sometimes the errors remain in the e-mail because the word is not spelled wrong but the wrong spelling has been use. This is the case with homonyms and is a growing problem. People depend on spell check so much that they do not proofread the body of the e-mail and just take it for granted that spell check has done it job. What they do not realize is that they are really depending on another person – the person that entered the words into the spell check program.

People are wasting so much time using e-mail to ask simple questions that it could take all day to get a project done. They send one sentence answers back-and-forth countless times, when one phone call would have taken less time. If they would take the time to pick up a phone instead of opening their e-mail program, they would be able to get their job done so much more quickly.

Edited to add: This is an essay that I wrote for my current english class and I though that I would post it here.

1 comment:

ellia said...

oh gosh, i don't even know how to respond for fear of being the prime example of what you blogged about... seriously though, i understand your point and had to laugh at the part where you talk of acronyms.... many times i knew someone who'd call me and ask, "what does this mean??"... and while i never use proper punctuation or higher case letters, it was always how i wrote... often i wonder [in blogging or emailing] if people read it the same pace and rhythm as i wrote it [and imagined it to be]... this is definitely a thought provoking post and a lovely one at that!!!