How to Be Good at Things: Email

Allow me to wax philosophical for a moment. According to my very precise calculations,

1. There was some measure of time during which I hadn’t yet been born

2. There is some measure of time in which I will cease to be.

Between these two large bosoms of nothingness, I motorboat my way through this thing called existence, doing primarily one thing: hanging out on the internet, writing emails.

If “online” was a house, this would be your front porch. And I think I just saw a kid light a bag of poo on fire.

I’ve coped with the fact learned that being great at email will not earn one fame, fortune, or love outside of Nigeria. It’s a shame, really, because I’m easily a top-10 emailer on Earth.

If you’re not familiar with email, it’s not because of some great technological and economic divide preventing your undeveloped state from building enough infrastructure to provide internet service. No, it’s because you are younger than 15 and you are busy as hell texting your bff.

brb g2g fail mth tst lolz ^o^

Email is baseball to texting’s football. A Bordeaux to texting’s shots. Not always better, but it requires more patience, and a willingness to observe and learn. Once you realize that internet shorthand only gets you so far, you too can become good at email, like me. Soon you will be CC’ing with the best of them.

I’ve identified the greatest hurdles to email stardom. I’m not afraid to tell it like it is, get you all the facts, so that you can eventually learn how to paypal me money. In the meantime, consider this an IOU. 

And now, your biggest obstacles to becoming good at email:

1. You join mailing lists.

This cartoon has no legs and it is freaking me out.

Once in a while, you decide it will benefit you to share your email address with some type of business or organization. Question: is 10% off a Southwestern Skillet-Fried Asian Salad at Ruby Tuesday’s really worth the twice-daily email blast? Well, at least you can eat that crap. Try justifying daily emails from Pottery Barn. You can’t.

I get at least 10 of these email blasts from random companies and organizations each week. It’s basically the email hydra: as soon as you unsubscribe from one, two more pop up. If you get more than 10, your life is over. And you are automatically signed up for the Bad@email Club. “But I’m the one receiving those emails!”, you say.

2. You forward emails.

Seriously, don’t do this. You have no idea how awful you make life for others.

3. You are old.

1337 grandmas, because 1336 wouldn’t be enough.

As a disclaimer, I just want to reiterate that kids are the absolute worst when it comes to any form of communication. But if you spent at least 30 years of your life not using the internet, chances are that you’re not very good at email. Personal emails have a style all their own – looser than a handwritten letter, and less awkward than a phone call every 6 months. Older internet users can’t seem to grasp this. Emails from older people follow one of three paths:

  1. Update on everything under the sun. Listen, I don’t want a life story, especially since yours will be rather long. 
  2. Attempt at internet slango in order to look cool.
  3. Chain emails.

Again, all are an improvement over texting. But that’s a low bar to set. You’re probably just better off calling at this point.

4. You have a Blackberry.

When you send email from a portable device, it is a recipe for failure. That’s how texting was invented, you know. Yes, you can afford a nice phone, or maybe you have a prestigious job to be tied to a Blackberry at all times. But something’s got to give. And that something in 99% of all cases is your ability to spell, manage simple sentence structure, or spend longer than 30 seconds responding.

I know what you’re thinking…and yes, you are a racist.

Basically, it boils down to this: if you’re not going to bother to sit down to compose an email, you won’t care about any of the subtleties that change writing from simple communication into an artform.

5. You are filing a complaint.

A great way to diminish your email performance is to be angry. Even when you’ve had time to flesh out a letter complaining about a product or service, you come off as an unlikeable, unsympathetic ninny. Yea, a ninny. It doesn’t matter if your 1337 grandmother just got botulism – don’t email Campbell’s about expired soup. No good can come of this. Ha! No good can – get it?

Well, that’s about it for the free tips. Feel free to text me your comments and thoughts. Or maybe just call? You never call anymore.


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