That wasn’t what I meant, not at all . . .

Aw gee. Why is communication via e-mail so fraught with misunderstandings, unintended nuances, and misread cues? Remember the good old days when we called each other and/or spoke to face-to-face, and if one person misunderstood the other, s/he could say immediately, “What did you mean by that?” and then you could both clear it up immediately and laugh about it? Even when we wrote actual letters, misunderstandings were less common, because phrasing wasn’t so truncated, and emoticons didn’t exist. (Well, to a certain point, they did, if you count doodles, but not to the extent that we have now.)

But with e-mail, so much is read into words, or the absence of some words, or the meaning of emoticons, or the timing and time-lapsing of messages, etc., that one misstep, and the relationship is on a teeter-totter. And I don’t know what’s worse, when it’s a business or a personal e-mail.

I’m just being a grump today because I just had another one of those communications where I write something, and someone misreads the tone, and replies in a haughty or sarcastic tone (or perhaps I’m just imagining that tone), and now I have to respond with a “Did I offend you?” type of e-mail, and then wait to see what that person has to say . . . ad nauseum.

Sigh. And yet, we just can’t do without e-mail.

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