A new trend is making its way across cyberspace, which I call “Getting the last e-word.” Not unlike getting the last word in a debate or the final summation in a trail, getting the last e-word means just what it says: Making an emphatic point in an online argument that you think gives you the upper hand…that is, until another email lands in your inbox from the opposing side.
It’s easy to let our fingers do the talking today, as they fly over the keyboard to compose our point of view. We’re not going to let some jerk have the last word when we still want to give him a piece of our mind.
A young man who worked at the PR agency we hired to promote the Beauty Bash would repeatedly defend himself whenever I took issue with his weak results. He’d write lengthy emails giving me his side. Since I thought his side was as weak as his performance, I kept sending emails back that reiterated my position, in different terms. That was dumb of me because I wasn’t going to teach this young man a bloody thing about how to be a stellar performer. We didn’t renew our contract with the company, which, I guess, counts as the last word.
Often e-mails make it impossible to discern what the sender really meant, because not everyone has the ability to coherently communicate his or her thoughts in writing. When we think we’re being attacked in e-mail, we either launch into the defensive or try to put our opposition on the defensive. Emails start flying through the air, which usually makes matters worse.
It’s better to walk away from the keyboard when we find ourselves wanting to react to an email we don’t like. No one ever really gets the last word, anyway.