Awkward Contacts, Some Examples
Wednesday April 15, 2020
Some of you emailed with kind words, hoping you hadn’t caused any offense.
Nope it wasn’t you guys, it’s other folks. And those people aren’t going to email me to check in on how I’m feeling about them, that’s for damn sure!
Two fun examples of stuff I get below:
These are emails that are like info-fragments. No introduction, no anything. It’s like I queried a database and got my results via email.
“Listen to the Serious Guys Podcast, episode 31. It is all about what you just wrote.” This person is projecting knowledge of third-party stuff, which makes them smart and interesting, similar to how a real, living, breathing database would be. I guess. But that’s the whole frigging email! Man, talk about being ready to be replaced by a robot—there you go. Also, telling people that what they wrote is just like something else…hmm—think about how that reads.
(My full article URL in the subject line) “There is a book about this, by XYZ Press.” Thanks Alexa!
“This was interesting, thank you.” Aw shucks. I’m sure your programmer just put that in as an easter egg! (Again, this is the whole email)
If you do this stuff, add some humanity to my reading experience. I do that for my readers all the time; it’s a gift maybe, but there’s also kind of a minimum bar to meet no matter who you are. (Also self, if you catch yourself doing that ever…also, stop.)
Special Commentary Track
Others write with meta-commentary:
“This article is just OK. Do you know if your readers are reading this? People skim on the web, and what you wrote may be hurting your chances of communicating to people who skim everything.”
“It’s not really about (what the title of the article was). I think you need to think about that again and revise.”
(Usually this person is an aspiring writer and they can’t get started, in an ironic twist. They’re projecting)
So yeah, don’t do this. This is how people destroy relationships in no time at all. True or not, again there’s a minimal bar of interpersonal harmonizing to be met. Plus it’s usually a qualitative flex. You know what that means? If I reply to what you wrote, you are going to get roasted because I’ve analyzed this writing style since my INTJ dad used to write me letters of criticism as a kid. I know how to point out the critic’s weaknesses. That’s become one of my superpowers. From warping and stretching their professional experience to serve as justification for any point of view, to using hyperbole to fill in where logic and objectivity are sadly lacking—I’m noticing all those critical blind spots from over here, when I read these emails.
If you can’t skim the site and don’t like that, eh. To me I get it but I’ve also put a lot of thought into the topic. I’ve been familiar with the various web writing theories since I started writing for the web years back. But there’s also this thing called “some people really need to learn to appreciate the details of things,” and a lot of those people are INTJs. That’s a huge part of my own journey—moving from info-nugget guy to nuanced, deeper thought. Embracing and organizing complexity. The benefits have been amazing, therefore I’m probably not going to spend much time making this blog “skimmable”.
It’s really awkward to reply to those, so I usually don’t, and I never have time to listen to whatever it is, so I thought I’d try to save those people some effort, give them a bit of warning up front that they’re wasting time.
I don’t really like being grumpy like my 10th grade P.E. teacher or something. But also, I am unashamedly and amazingly grumpy sometimes—this blog operates on that as a foundational principle ;-) and I hope things like that give everybody else a bit of space to be human, too.
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