Sunday, November 20, 2011
Modern manners: the graceless stupidity of ignoring emails
My purpose in manifesting my person at the window is of course a calculated offence: I want them to understand that they have been observed and that I have elected to ignore them. It's a kind cruelty of a sort: it does at least invite the option not to call again, thereby saving them much in hurt dignity, if any.
A very modern variation on this rudeness is the ignored email. You, the sender, have gone to the bother of directing energy at a certain target (an editor, say). Perhaps you have suggested an idea, or pointed something out: in other words, you have bothered. The effect? Nothing.
You know the email has arrived because emails don't go missing: that's a modern myth. There is no such thing as a lost email, unless it has been wilfully deleted by some lazy cunt (ie the sendee). You may be on good terms with the sendee who reads your email - and then decides not to respond. You may be well known to the sendee, you may even have enjoyed carnal knowledge (perhaps not), yet silence is the answer.
Suddenly I am the Jehovah's Witness treated as an unwelcome visitor.
In the case of the office-bound editor or journalist who ignores emails, this is a behavioural exhibition of arrogance or sheer ignorance arising from tenure. The individual has started to imagine, thanks to the plastic security of status, that they are being inundated - that somehow everyone 'out there' is trying to sell them something. Thanks to their elevated position, the normal rules of etiquette are suspended because no equality is perceived. Silence is a type of response (in that it falls short of an expectation): its purpose is to advertise the importance of the sendee.
Silence is the flamboyant twirl of Big I Am.
The Silent are in transit, see - they hallucinate that their lives are moving at greater speed than those who are 'out there' - and the absence of response is a living demonstration. In any case, an ego trip based on not doing something is one of the delights of tenured journalism. It adds to the quilting of contract life, to the relish of professional hibernation on a Caffè Nero drip feed.
What I love most though is that The Silent usually come calling later, pretending not to have received the email or attempting to gloss over their graceless stupidity. That's when the real fun starts.