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July 24, 2006

I hate e-mail.

I love the speed.

I hate the carelessness speed often breeds.

I love the informality.

I hate the sloppiness.

I love brevity.

I hate it when brevity is seen as brusque.

I love brevity.

So I hate it when brevity is blown off For e-mails that go on, And on, And on, Asking me to address five major points, And 17 sub-points And 53 sub-sub points By "simply" hitting REPLY.

I love brevity.

So I hate having to download software To watch a video attachment That could have been addressed With a single-screen text message.

I love the ability to instantly reply to e-mail.

But I hate the expectation that I'll always reply instantly. Footnote: I hate voicemails about unanswered e-mails: "I sent you an e-mail a few minutes ago. I haven't heard back from you yet. Did you get it? I just wanted to make sure. Because our system's been down, And if you didn't get it, I'll resend it."

I love hearing from lots of people.

I love hearing from lots of people I love.

But I hate the backlog When lots of people send e-mails All at the same time And I can't find time to reply Even to the people I love, Who deserve an equally loving love note in response.

I love 24/7 online access.

I hate the expectation that I'm online 24/7.

I love the e-alternative to phone tag.

But I miss the human voice, With all its nuance, Which little smiley faces, And symbolic winking faces, And e-shorthand (LOL) Can't replicate.

I love the efficiency of mass e-mailings.

I hate receiving mass e-mailings.

I love the efficiency of REPLY TO ALL.

I hate hitting REPLY TO ALL by mistake, And having 83 people See the wisecrack Intended only for my mother.

I love e-mail reminders of what I'm to do.

I hate e-mail trails proving that I forgot.

I love surprise e-mails from people I've not seen in ages,

E-mails that renew friendships,

E-mails that spark e-conversations by instant message.

But I still miss seeing those people, And studying their faces, And discovering whether there's joy, Or sadness, Or mischief In their eyes.

But hey, If I can find the time, I can always send an e-mail to ask.

Hetrick is president and CEO of Hetrick Communications Inc., an Indianapolis-based public relations and marketing communications firm. His column appears weekly. To comment on this column, go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.comor send e-mail to bhetrick@ibj.com.
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