According to a front page story in today’s Wall Street Journal, the use of “dear” has fallen by the wayside because it seems too formal when sending a letter via email. According to to the article’s author, Dionne Searcey, it isn’t uncommon for people to begin email correspondence with “Hey, folks” and “Hi.” Even Anna Post, the great-great granddaughter of Emily post and the spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute, says that it isn’t as important as it used to be to use “dear” except in very formal letters. The article then goes on to quote a businessman as saying that it takes too much time to write out “Dear Soandso” and that he has an automatic signature so that he doesn’t have to take the time to say “thank you” and sign his name.
I’ve said it before but I’m going to say it again. I wish we would bring a little bit more formality back into our lives. Have we become so barbaric that we don’t even have time for common courtesy? I still remember an email I received from a doctoral student that I didn’t know that was addressed, “Hey, Doc.” You can be sure that when I met with this young man, I helped him understand that he will get further in his career if he were just a wee bit more formal when writing to professors he didn’t know.
You know I love those old educational films so I did a search to see if there was one on how to write letters. Of course there was and this 10 minute Coronet Film from 1950 helps us understand how to write a good social letter…whether we are sending via snail mail or email.