May 20, 2011

Email Valedictions: The Ways We Say Goodbye

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What is the issue?

Since finishing school I’ve experienced a range of identity-shaking conundrums ranging from the grandiose (WHAT THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE? HOW WILL I EVER BE RESPECTABLE IF I DON’T HAVE A SALARY?) to the mundane (WHY THE EFF DON’T I HAVE A TRAVEL-SIZE UMBRELLA? HOW WILL I EVER BE RESPECTABLE IF I’M ALWAYS SHOWING UP TO PLACES WET?). The past few days I’ve distracted myself with my latest near-existentialist quandary: email valedictions.

The days of simply slapping a “sincerely” and a flowery signature at the end have gone the way of the handwritten letters. Nowadays, there’s pressure to squeeze every ounce of digital face time into making yourself into an unbeatable kick-ass person. The way you end an email is the last impression you give to somebody, whether it be a future employer or your roommate. In order to make the wisest personal decision and further procrastinate more pressing matters, I’ve compiled a study from the emails I’ve received in order to evaluate each valediction’s effect.

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“Regards”

People who use it: professors, colleagues.

Example:

Andrew,

I read your paper proposal and couldn’t understand any of it. Please re-do.

Regards,
Prof.

Effect: “Regards” is a passive aggressive abbreviation for, “this person apparently regards my time as worthless.” Never good.

“Love”

People who use it: significant others, family, biddies who are incapable of understanding love and transform it into a worthless, gratuitous commodity.

Example:

Hello My Darling Son,

Your father and I haven’t heard from you in weeks and wonder if you’re still alive.

Love,
Mom

Effect: Using love to end an email can be a slippery slope, one often lined with either guilt or endearment. Typically it’s employed as a reminder of sorts, as in, “remember I love you, you insensitive jerk.” Best if used sparingly.

“Cheers”

People who use it: Anglophiles, Twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings.

Example:

Hello all!

Some friends and I were thinking of starting a weekly poetry-slam, knitting circle potluck. Feel free to post your suggestions to the Google Doc to which I’ve invited you.

Cheers,
Naomi

Effect: Using “cheers” reminds an email recipient:

  1. The writer is most likely a white, liberal-minded yuppie.
  2. The writer secretly considers reading Harry Potter to have been the essential experience in forming his or her sense of self.
  3. The writer studied abroad in London and wants to be responsible for starting a trend on this side of the pond.

“Thanks”

People who use it: People looking for favors, people sending an email to someone for the first time.

Example:

Hiiiiiiiii,

My friend Kimi said you have the notes from class last Thursday. Could I borrow them pleaz?

Thanks (thanksthanksthanks!)
Stephanie

Effect: Overly gracious.

“[Nothing]”

People who use it: Bosses, computer illiterates, people who don’t have time for this shit.

Example:

U WERE SUPPOSED TO BE @ WORK 2 HRS AGO. UR NOT WORTH THE MINIMUM WAGE I PAY U

Effect: Utter panic and intimidation mostly because you spend the first minute trying to figure out who sent this terrifying email.

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Conclusion… We should all go back to slapping “Sincerely” on correspondences. TC mark

Andrew McFarland

Andrew McFarland is a Boston-based photographer and writer who’s looking to be less Boston based.

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