'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Perils of Emailing

I am old enough to be among those who spent part of their adult lives in the inland/card era. I saw the advent of email and then watched the internet revolution happen and like most folks, I too benefited immensely from these developments (and can't imagine a life offline). But, I also feel quite acutely about some serious social losses brought about by these innovations. Specifically, I want to write about the collapse of friendships due to (bad) emailing. It is indeed a sad irony that a powerful medium that 'atomizes' the physical distance between people, often leads to conflict and breakdowns...

Here, I recount two events (or processes) caused by the 'Fw' (forward) functionality of Email.
1. I used to be good friends with a certain Tom. And Tom used to be as good friends with a Harry. And I hardly knew Harry. Once Tom told me in one of his regular mails how interesting a character Harry was and how helpful. Those were times when I felt I could do with some help so I sent a mail to Tom asking for Harry's email address and a brief intro.

Soon after, I get a mail from Tom which went:
"Hi, forwarding Harry's mail to me. That will give you his address - Tom"
Right below that was Harry's mail to Tom. It went:
"Hi Tom, Sure, you could pass on my address to Nandu. - Harry"
Harry had written in reply mode to an earlier mail from Tom which was right below and went:
"Harry, A friend, Nandu was asking for an intro to you and your address. Can I give them to him? Of course, I will pass them on only if it is okay with you. - Tom"

I wrote to Tom saying the following: "Thanks for Harry's address. Just a remark. You could probably have cut out your mail to Harry before forwarding his mail to me. It is quite okay if you tell him "I will give your address to Nandu only if it is okay with you" but I felt a little pained to read that. You probably should have deleted it from what you sent to me. Hope you understand."

Tom replied: "Hey, you are hyper-sensitive(*) man! I just bounced Harry's mail to you - it had the info you needed and I did not bother to check what was below his mail. Basically, I did not have the time, too busy. And why on Earth did you dig down and read *everything* in that mail? Perhaps you have too much time on your hands ( :) )"

This is simpler. There is a certain Dick who I used to know very well. He was (and probably still is) at some point working for a top company in some top position. I was looking for a job so thought of writing to him with my resume attached. Shortly thereafter, I received a mail from Dick:

"Hi, Our HR says (I am forwarding their message) there is no immediate requirement. You will be on hold. Shall keep you posted. Best, Dick"

Right below was the HR boss's mail to Dick:
"Hi Dick, yes, right now, there is no post for which this candidate can be considered. Let us see. Regards.... (name)"

The HR, in turn, had responded to an earlier mail from Dick which was right under:
"Hi, Sending the profile of one Nandakumar for your consideration. I do not think he is suitable for any position here. But what is your opinion? Let me know - Dick"

(*) - Cynically speaking, "You are too sensitive!" translates to "Gotcha! I have won!" (well, in the process of writing this post, I learnt what 'Gotcha' means precisely, thanks to Wikipedia)


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