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Stop Saying 'Nice To E-Meet You'

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 17/03/2016 Damon Beres
ATHENA IMAGE © MoMo Productions via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

I hate to criticize, but if you use the phrase "nice to e-meet you" in an email to me, I will trash your message, slip on a five-pound boot and punt my computer out the window and into the busy streets of New York City.

Do not do it.

We live in a glorious age of electronic communications in which people are comfortable distilling their complex emotional messages into dumb icons like this sneering jerk-face: 😏

And yet, for some, concision is abandoned entirely when emailing someone for the first time. Nice to ... e-meet you, they write. By that they mean, "nice to electronically meet you," i.e., meet you not-in-person.

This is bad for a few reasons.

  • Mark Twain said writers should "eschew surplusage." Communicate whatever is necessary and trim the rest. Adding that "e-" is meaningless. You are saying the same thing as "nice to meet you" but adding an extra syllable for the sake of clarifying that you are meeting "electronically" -- an unwarranted step because the medium itself clarifies that the introduction is happening electronically.

  • Can you imagine meeting face-to-face at a party, turning to a mutual friend and saying, "Oh yeah, we e-met"? That would be absurd.

  • Given how much we talk to one another via smartphones, "nice to e-meet you" probably makes less sense than saying "nice to meet you IRL!" when shaking someone's hand in person.

  • It makes it seem like you're dazzled by email. People have been using email to communicate for decades, and here you are calling attention to the fact that you've been introduced to someone electronically. It's telling that even the classic America Online voice said "you've got mail" when users signed in all those years ago -- "e-" was unnecessary even in the dial-up days. 

  • It's overly formal. You are going out of your way not to presume something about our relationship. It's implied that you're saying something like, "I am meeting you, but I'm not really meeting you, because this is happening via email." I respect the professional distance. But a recent survey by The Huffington Post and YouGov found that most people don't consider email "formal" by default -- it is okay for you to drop the pretense and slide into the shorter, arguably more casual "nice to meet you." 

I know you're trying to be polite. But this is the crucial moment when people will form their first impression of you. No one's going to take issue with "nice to meet you," but nuts like me might tweak out over -- shudder -- "nice to e-meet you."

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