I was just typing an email to someone and I wasn’t sure how to end it, so I just hit “send”. I feel kind of guilty because all my years of Letter Writing, starting in third grade when my teacher made the entire class write letters to Prince Charles telling him why he should marry her and up through Business Law have focused on the proper way to close a letter. I’ve spent at least a week’s worth of my life debating on whether to use “sincerely”, “cordially” or “formally yours”.
Now that email is big, the ending of emails is hotly debated. In thinking about how to close this most recent missive I ran down the mental list of various email sign offs and have decided that they each have their own very special drawbacks. Since email is informal anyway, it really looks odd to have “Cordially, Katherine J. Coble” as the closer. That’s like wearing a bow-tie with flip-flops. More often than not I just sign “Katherine”. The closer I am to a person the shorter my name gets. For instance, if you get “Kathy”, you’re in my family or high school friends list. Those are the folks who call me that. Everyone else is liable to get an icy glare, because I really HATE to be called “Kathy”. Really. Most folks I email get “Kat”, although there are a few out there who are the lucky (?) recipients of my hurried “K”. I like signing emails “K” because it makes me feel sort of like Zorro. It’s as though I snuck in, rescued the other person from boredom and swung out of their inbox after slashing my initial with a rapier.
There are a few email-enders I’ve read over the years, and every time I see them I form an opinion of the sender. It’s probably prejudiced and doubtless is very wrong, but I can’t help myself.
TTFN Grow up. Seriously. Signing an email like this is sort of the equivalent of baby talk. It’s a childish thing that is cute when the baby does it but looks silly if you’re a grown-up person. I know that it has its origins in Britain and Morse Code but everyone who uses it now does so because of Tigger. That’s probably why I get volumes of email from Disney correspondents signed this way.
Namaste *snork*. Is there anything more pretentious? Really? I don’t think so. I get lots of emails ending this way, oddly enough none of the senders are Hindu people or practitioners of the Hindu religion. I wonder why I only get “Shalom” emails from Sharon Cobb and no “Mahalo” emails at all. Both Shalom and Mahalo are culturoreligious salutations like Namaste, but no one ever uses them. I think it’s because “Namaste” seems all crunchy-granola hip, like those red-string Kaballah Light bracelets Madonna wears. I don’t like it when religion is reduced to an accessory. Speaking of which, that reminds me of a classic scene from Arrested Development:
Maeby: Do you guys know where I can get one of those necklaces shaped like a “t”?
Michael: That’s a cross
Maeby: Across from where?
That’s sort of how silly it looks to sign “Namaste”.
Sig Lines Sig lines are over. I remember back in the uphill both ways days of Unix and UseNet when we nerds were bantering over the VAX and labouring about the most clever possible sig lines to close out our posts. At this point I think I’ve seen every one that is remotely worthwhile as well as a metric ton of stupid ones full of ASCII angels and quotes stolen from refrigerator magnets. Years ago I came across the single best one ever, thanks to a poster at alt.folklore.urban:
Heisenberg May Have Slept Here
That’s it. Nothing can top that, and it’s useless to try.
Katherine J. Coble
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