Email: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Fifty years ago, there were almost no computers. People communicated in person or with telephone calls or letters sent by U.S. mail. Our phones had no caller ID. We answered our phones when anyone called. There was no internet. There were no cell phones. There was no such thing as email – electronic messages delivered between computers and cell phones.
Now, nearly everyone has a cell phone and a computer. Our cells phones are mobile computers. More and more, people communicate by text messages and email. But, not everyone – yet.
Email is a tremendous tool to communicate information. With emails, you can communicate with large groups of people quickly. Emails can replace regular (snail) mail for many communications. Organizations can provide important information about what is going on and when meetings are scheduled by email. They can announce events and provide details. Through emails, readers can buy tickets for events or pay dues.
Many Odd Fellows and Lodges use email regularly to communication important information to members and friends. Some lodges send out minutes for review by email. Noble Grands send out emails every week or so to their lodge members. Grand Lodge communications are forwarded to members by email. Board members and committees share information by email. It is easy. It is natural. It is common and routine.
Emails can be annoying. Emails can be overwhelming. Emails can be poorly written. Emails can be fake. They can be a tool to hack into your computer.
The best emails are carefully written. They are written like a letter where words are spelled correctly and sentences are written cleanly. Messages are clearly communicated. It is important to take the time to proofread an email message before sending it. It is surprising how many emails I receive with misspelled words and poor grammar or sentences with errors that clearly don’t say what is intended.
Nearly all computer programs have a “spell check” feature. It is very easy to use. It identifies and helps the writer correct misspelled words and poor grammar. For example, with the Microsoft Word program there is a reference button on the top line of the screen called “Review”. When you click on “Review”, another button called “Spelling & Grammar” appears. Click on that button and you are on your way,
Be careful how many emails you send to a person or a group. Most of us receive many unwanted emails. It can be time-consuming and annoying to sift through them to get to the important emails. The more emails you send to a person or group, the more likely it will be ignored.
Choose a catchy subject title. A dull subject title may cause the reader to skip your email entirely.
Emails can be impersonal. A well-written email can be as inviting as a personal letter or conversation. But most are not. All too often, writers rush to send their emails. They may be poorly written. They may be unclear. On the other hand, well-written emails can be very personal and uplifting. They can encourage thought and responses. Just like letters, meaningful, personal exchanges can happen with emails.
Caution! Be very careful when you receive an email with just a link to another website, with little or no other message. These emails are often an attempt to get access into your computer. Do not click on these links unless you are sure it is legitimate. Sometimes, these emails come from “friends” – a person you know. All too often, your friend’s email account and/or computer has been hacked and the hacker is sending emails to all of the contacts of your friend.
There are times when communication by email must stop. Sometimes, routine emails prompt responses where disagreement is shown. Be very, very careful if this occurs. Choose your words carefully get if you decide to respond.
Never, ever, ever get into an argument with email. Never say things by email that you would not say to someone face-to-face. If you have ever argued by email, almost certainly it did not end well – probably the opposite. Remember, anything you say by email is out there forever!
When you let yourself get sucked into an email argument, it is too easy to sit back and craft a counter-argument and send it off. But if you are truthful, you know your message is not likely to persuade the other person to change their views. Rather, it is likely to make them more unhappy. So, they will send back an email that will make you feel the same way. Pretty soon, you have exchanged two or three emails back and forth and the disagreement has grown.
I have received emails that are clearly intended to start an argument. My routine response is that “I choose not to discuss this issue via email”. I invite them to talk with me on the telephone. Emails are not a substitute for all communications.
Email is with us to stay. New Odd Fellow members will expect it. There will be a time in the foreseeable future that all Odd Fellows and Rebekahs will need to use email to stay in touch (other than a pandemic). We should all learn how to use it wisely.
Email is a very useful and a valuable tool for our Odd Fellows Lodge. But email has its limitations. Use it when you can. But use it effectively. Beware of when it is not effective. Remember that there may be times that you cannot beat in-person or telephone contact.
Davis Lodge #169
Past Grand Master
Independent Order of Odd Fellows