Here is something I think has been going on for a while, but has elbowed its way into my consciousness this week, when I’m doing a lot of e-mailing back and forth with students about advisement issues, and responding to their urgent pleas to get into my filled-up Intro to Journalism course. A student will e-mail me with the specifics about why s/he wants to take the class but was unable to register, how they are devoted to journalism, etc. I will e-mail back something along the lines of:
“Thanks for your e-mail. I may add additional students to the class. Please send me some samples of your writing.”
The student will e-mail me back the next day saying something like:
“Hello, what kind of writing would you like?”
But—and here is the trend I’m talking about—they will not include my initial message. The state of my mind, all by itself, would guarantee my not knowing what they’re talking about. Combined with the volume of e-mail I get, bafflement is a total slam dunk.
So why do students leave out the e-mail they are replying to? Are they trying to conserve electrons? Is it the default mode of the gmail they all seem to use? Or are they just trying to befuddle their aging professors?