E-mail habits become problems

Remember back in the good old days when etiquette only meant table manners? Well those times are over. In today’s world of internet and e-mail, we have a whole new set of rules to remember.

E-mails are quickly becoming an area of rules and regulations, and students are encouraged to remember their e-mails have consequences.

In an article in today’s BG News, Bonnie Fink, a distance education professor, urged people to remember there are real people at the other end of e-mails.

But, the big problem isn’t only the lack of proper spelling, grammar and sentence structure in e-mails. It’s also become a problem that people don’t realize the written word can be interpreted in many ways.

E-mails lack the tone, body language, and facial expression which help us to properly interpret messages as we are receiving them.

For instance, sarcasm is difficult to convey via e-mail, and many harmless comments could be taken seriously when read outright.

We need to be careful about the way we word our messages and need to keep the recipient in mind when deciding on the proper way to write an e-mail.

All too often students can confuse the significance of writing e-mails as opposed to using instant message programs. In an instant message, it’s usually acceptable to use jargon and abbreviations like “lol” and “j/k.” In e-mails, you have to be more careful.

There’s a difference between writing an e-mail to your good friend to find out what time you’re going to the movie and writing to a professor to set up an appointment to go over the latest quiz.

Not only can you risk making a bad impression on your professor, but your haphazard jumble of sentence fragments may not even warrant a response, leaving you out of luck.

But it’s not just students who should be careful of how they’re writing their e-mails, professors should keep it in mind as well.

It’s a double standard to expect clear, concise e-mails from students when students may not always receive the same from professors.

In general, all people communicating through e-mail should try to adhere to the standards Virginia Shea has laid out in her book “Netiquette.”

This can help to avoid not only potentially offensive remarks, but can also help to keep you from making a bad impression on professors, administrators, and potential employers.

The core rules can also be seen at http://www.albion.com/netiquette/corerules.html.