Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Magazine article The Spectator

Dear Mary

Article excerpt

Q. One of my friends in California has been sending me unsolicited shaggy dog stories by e-mail. Sometimes they go on for several pages. I have attempted to put her off with English-style hints but it doesn't appear to work and I have taken to deleting them unread. Recently an Irish friend in London has started to do it too. Again, I delete the e-mails unread. My concern is that one day I might delete something important like a cri de coeur. How can I stop them sending the junk jokes?

Name and address withheld A. E-mail has become fairly passive aggression. Some e-mailers are trying to display their writing skills in a small-time form of vanity publishing. Others use it as free therapy, banging on about themselves at great length without fear of interruption. Office workers complain that they are e-mailed instead of spoken to by people at the next desk who are frightened of confrontation or being disagreed with, but since you are not in an office you can ensure you do not throw out the cri de coeur with the bath water by using the following method. Nuisance e-mailers should receive this message by return: `Since this customer has a very low band width connection to the Internet, please restrict messages to "urgent" and under 100 words.' Put a hundred names in the address field to give the impression that what you are sending out is an automated response. Since it will appear not to be focused on the individual who gets it, no one can be offended.

Q. My 18-year-old daughter has been silly enough to have had her nose pierced. …

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