by Mike Masnick

The Latest Made Up Email Disesase: Pre And Post-Mail Tension

from the oh-come-on dept

Yahoo commissioned a study about how people use email... and considering they provide an email service, I'd take the findings with a fairly large grain of salt. They're claiming that a huge percentage of people suffer from what they call "Pre and Post Mail Tension" (PPMT) when they have trouble understanding the intent of emails from others, or worry that their own emails will be misinterpreted and/or passed on to 50 million people. It appears that all those articles warning people to be careful that emails can be easily passed on and not to write something you didn't expect the world to see have gotten their point across too well. Now people are stressed out that any personal detail they write about will be seen by everyone. They also worry that people will misunderstand what they wrote. We've written here in the past about the need for "sarcasm tags" in HTML, because it is definitely true that many people don't understand sarcasm when it comes in a text format. This study said that it's even led to arguments among friends and significant others breaking up. If that's not reason enough for the added HTML tags, I don't know what is... Finally, people who are afraid that their emails will be misinterpreted tend not to be able to do any work. Instead, they keep clicking on their email box to see if the person wrote back. Of course, I don't think this is any different than people who wait by the phone for someone they like to call them back. In fact, the study points out these "symptoms" are more likely to occur with people who are acting flirtatiously online and talking to someone they're interested in.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Apr 2003 @ 3:00pm

    I know what they mean

    I've had that tension of wondering how an e-mail I sent would be received, on a couple of occasions. In my case, it's because I'm much more likely to mouth off in e-mail than in person. (Nearly got myself fired a couple of times that way.) Then again, the e-mails that have gotten me in trouble are the ones I thought were innocent and no big deal! It's when you least expect it that someone misinterprets something.

    Bottom line: For anything sensitive, if you can talk about it in person, or even on the phone, do that instead of using e-mail.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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