The Uncomfortable Reality of the Unsent Email

Photo by Adeolu Eletu.

Have you ever written and rewritten an email, finally realizing that there is no way to say what you want to say without sounding like a petty jerk?

Oh yeah, me neither, because I am never, ever petty or rude or selfish or inappropriate. Ever.

Ha! Just kidding... This is an experience I know well enough that when I read this piece at The Cut about writing "practice emails", it rang so, so true.

In writer Edith Zimmerman's case, the revelation came when she tried to describe the email exchange that wronged her to a friend in another email, and realized that perhaps she was the wrongdoer, not the receiver of wrong.

For me, it happens more often as I try to craft my argument. I go back, thinking, "Oh no no, this is not quite right, they won't see the problem," until, after two or three attempts, I realize that the problem is not that I can't craft the perfect email. It's that the facts are not on my side. That I am, indeed, a petty jerk. At least at this particular, hypothetical moment.

What a gift written communication has given us that we can go through the motions of making an argument before we actually make it to another human person.


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