Email helps keep families in touch

Now that we all have internet and can email, my siblings and I are more current with each others’ daily lives than ever before.

Now that we all have internet and can email, my siblings and I are more current with each others’ daily lives than ever before.

Recently an impromptu contest surfaced as to who is the biggest email pest. How is a pest defined? Emails too often? Emails are too wordy? To me a pest is a slug in my garden, someone who doesn’t take no for an answer, or a Florida telemarketer who persists in phoning me before 9 a.m.

Emails that keep me in daily touch with family don’t rank as pests. To quote one sibling, “We do not consider receiving an email as being an imposition but rather a privilege that you thought enough of us to send us one. It is also a great way to keep up on what is happening in the other person’s life.”

I look forward to emails that bring me news of what grandchildren are doing, cruises or trips others are taking, and updates on everyday doings – gardens, weather, and doctors’ visits. Photographs are a bonus.

Some, knowing how much I enjoy humour, choose to forward funny bits from odd sources, or what Dr. Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory dismisses as “internet banality”. Jay Leno, in his Headlines of April 25, highlighted a joke I had received by email only that morning as one of a string of church announcements titled Church Ladies with Typewriters.

When I read the announcements, I laughed heartily though I was all alone. A joke has to be good to provoke a belly laugh when no one is around to share.

Here’s Leno’s headline:  “Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door”.

Whenever I read a magazine or newspaper article that is unusual, funny, informative, or touches on a topic dear to a sibling’s heart I’m inclined to forward it in case they might enjoy it too but maybe haven’t seen it. (My reading choices are as selective as a sewer rat’s diet.)

Well aware I might be plugging others’ email in-boxes with items they may have no desire or time to read, I try to assign subject headings to give them the gist of my email so, if it lacks appeal, they can delete it without opening it.

For instance, “Here’s a new duty for a dog” was my subject line heralding a  news item about a Kelowna Marmaduke who adopted 30 newly-hatched chicks.

“Imagine checking expiry dates on cans to pinpoint time of death” was my subject line for a news item about Stephen Fonseca, head of the coroner’s identification and disaster response unit, responsible for trying to match missing persons to unidentified remains in B.C.

And “Improper rivet holes may have led to airline fuselage opening up” introduced a report about Southwest Airlines’ cabin malfunction.

We all have individual interests, which gives our emails an eclectic flavour.Two siblings carry a camera at the ready. So from one we may receive emails bulging with 40 or more photos documenting an afternoon walk. The other has younger grandchildren and sends us proof of their activities from rafting on inner tubes in a ditch deep with spring runoff, to toasting frankfurters over an open fire in February.

Often the emails serve as conversation starters. A recipient will phone a sender to follow up.

Until age 40, long distance phone calls were expensive. Phoning relatives to chat was a rarity. Now phoning has become second nature. But emails have the advantage of allowing contact at any hour without disturbing the recipient – the message patiently waits to be read; both sender and receiver have a written record, useful for those of us with a fading memory; and we can review the email to pick up any points we might have overlooked in first reading. Whether often or long, family emails brighten my day.


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