I just learned with great alarm that the salutation “Dear” is destined for the dustbin of history. I know that I, for one, have struggled with using “Dear” in internet exchanges such as emails or comments on blogs. Now I apparently will not have to worry anymore. Columnist Bob Greene tackles this very issue in an erudite analysis that I read on CNN.
I stop to wonder whether our social exchanges on the world wide web would have been more cordial if, and only if, the inventors of email had insisted that we use “Dear” in writing our internet missives. Perhaps the more negative aspects of email, blog posts, or tweets could have been avoided.
Take the following imagined email or blog post:
“You are the dumbest ignoramus that has ever walked on this earth! A dust mite is more clued in than you are! Your mother should have sold you to the gypsies when she had a chance.”
Now can you imagine lighting into someone when you have to call him or her “Dear?”
You are the dumbest ignoramus that has ever walked on this earth! A dust mite is more clued in than you are! Your mother should have sold you to the gypsies when she had a chance.
See? It just wouldn’t have worked out. The implicit anger of the original message would be so diluted by the gentle salutation that all vitriol would have been mollified. Insults would have had to be more carefully crafted to match up with the way the missive had to begin. We missed our chance at web civility when “Dear” began its slow tortuous, excruciating decline into the abyss of forgotten manners. So sad.
Very truly yours,