A post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group
In the 19th century, it was considered impolite not to answer your personal letters. With the advance of electronic mail, the etiquette of correspondence seems to have changed. We all receive dozens of emails – it’s relatively easy to get anyone’s email address – and many inboxes are inundated with spam. Nevertheless, politeness dictates that we reply to personal emails, doesn’t it? Even if the reply is negative, I always send it, but some people don’t bother even to acknowledge their emails.
As a writer, I encounter this phenomenon in several variations. One is familiar to every writer. We submit our stories to magazines and publishers, and if they don’t want our stories, in half the cases, they don’t reply. I understand their predicament: they get tons of submissions and not enough staff to reply to every rejected author.
Another type of non-answered emails is entirely different, and I can’t comprehend it. As I cultural journalist, I regularly get an assignment from my editor to write about a certain artist/writer/actor/etc. I contact them through email, often out of the blue, to ask for an interview for my articles. Most people reply. They are happy to talk about themselves and flattered that our newspaper is interested in their stories.
But occasionally, my subjects don’t reply. Maybe they don’t want anyone to write about them, or maybe they don’t want me in particular to write about them. It’s possible, but would it kill them to send off a short negative reply? “Thank you, I’m not interested,” takes three seconds to type, and you don’t have to go to the post office to reply to your emails. Why don’t they? I don’t believe they get hundreds of offers from other journalists or other newspapers, so what is the reason for their digital rudeness?
It’s still considered rude not to answer your personal correspondence, isn’t it?