Friday, October 1, 2010

Internet Etiquette

I haven’t been getting many joke emails lately. Wonder why? Is it possible that I’ve already seen every single one of them out there in Cyberworld and there is absolutely nothing left to send me? Or is it because I haven’t done my fair share of forwarding them on to my list of contacts and, therefore, I’ve been dropped from my friends’ distribution lists?

I don’t know the answer, but my email inbox has gotten pretty boring lately. All I get are offers to buy stuff. Which, you know, isn’t bad ‘cause I like buying stuff.

But I also like to laugh. And I haven’t had even a stupid pun to LOL over lately.

Of course, I complain when the opposite is true and I have so many joke emails to read before deleting or forwarding that my inbox is overflowing and I forget to respond to that single legitimate invite or query. Oops.

I think that the etiquette involved in email forwards is interesting – mostly because it’s mostly unspoken and unwritten. But believe you me, it’s there.

Like, for example, you’re not supposed to reply to every single joke email that someone forwards to you. If you do that often enough, people will remove you from their distribution list. Because the point of forwarding an email is to get it moved on in the vast machine that is the Internet. It’s not supposed to come back to you with the response, “Good one!” Ugh. It’s just one more thing to delete.

What’s worse is if you do not respond to the “Good one!” comment and you get a follow-up email from that person asking why you didn’t respond to their email. It’s not like you can claim ownership to the joke. You just forwarded a note that someone somewhere sometime wrote or drew or made up. So what do you say? “Uh. Thanks?”

Talk about scintillating communications.

Now, it is also a well-documented fact (based on my own personal research over the past day and a half) that people forward jokes to friends in hopes that they will think, Wow. Friend X-Y-Z thought about me for a brief nanosecond while she typed my name into the distribution list – I should find out how she is and if that pesky sciatica is still bothering her.

In this case, it’s perfectly acceptable to reply via email to a Forward. You are even allowed to write, “Good one!” but you must also follow-up with something a little more substantive. Believe me, as the author of many a long-winded chatty email, I greedily accept the two line response as “better than nuthin’.”

Another faux pas in the murky world of email etiquette is when you forward something that struck you as slightly amusing (Thought for the day: There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2040, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.) and you receive a rebuttal complete with facts and figures as to why the “joke” was neither true nor funny.

Come on, people. If it didn’t make you guffaw, chuckle or even smile – just a little – then hit “delete” and move on. There is no need to develop a doctoral thesis on the topic. Ain’t nobody awarding you an advanced degree on your pithy remarks. It. Was. A. Joke. And, okay, so maybe it wouldn’t qualify for the Joke Hall of Fame, but we all need to lighten up a little.

These are only some of the many unspoken and unwritten rules of Internet Etiquette. Perhaps we’ll revisit this topic, once I make up some more stuff about it.

In the meantime, if you have something funny to share, please do. My in-box cannot take one more offer from for the cheapest rates for a hotel in a city we’ve never visited and never in this lifetime plan to visit.

Plus, even with those goofy pictures of William Shatner plastered throughout, never makes me LOL.

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