Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Viability of Writing Serious Emails

Many emails are business or brief notes, but sometimes we can find ourselves writing and writing. In some ways, the writing of long-winded or generally revealing letters as not transfered from snail mail to electronic mail -- but is this changing? (Image: Screen capture of Apple Mail) It has been my personal experience that a thoughtful email can transcend the negative connotations of having discussions online. Many of the issues people have with online communications revolves around the fleeting attention of both parties to the discussion -- but when thought and care enter the equation, does email rival tried-and-true forms of communication?

Now, I may be a bit biased, being someone who works online, but I believe that it can. Email is not inherently less personal than written letters, unless you argue that the hand written aspect is important. I personally see handwriting as a hinderance to thinking because it is linear and needs something like whiteout to become non-linear -- and that white out will often cause the receiver to wonder why something was changed.

When writing an email, or any other text on a computer, among other advantages, you have freedom to delete or change words and go back to a previous section in order to add a sentence. I believe a well crafted email or digital text is often far more complete in the sense that the writer has freedom to arrange their thoughts, the way they want, as their thoughts evolve.

In my opinion, if done right, emails can even be effective as a push-off point to start solving problems. It's effective because you can simply put your position out there while you ask to talk about it. With email you have the time to think over what you want to say, but the piece-of-mind that it will reach the recipient a few seconds after you press "send."

Keeping in touch via email is a reality for some of my friendships, specifically with friends who have gone to different universities. In some ways it seems to me like there is a level of openness in email that is hard to reach as quickly in person, on the phone, or on instant messengers. When you're writing a serious email, the big difference it provides is the pre-mentioned ability to sit there and think your point through. That really lets you get your thoughts out right and encourages you to talk as much as you want.