One of my personal gripes nowadays is e-mail. Not, I hasten to add, my own use of it, but other peoples'. Use, or perhaps I should say, misuse.
E-mail today seems to be something that is uniquely capable of laying bare all the personal foibles and failings of the American public. Carelessness, inattention, confusion, disorganization, and inability to follow simple directions; not to mention ignorance of English grammar and spelling.
Hardly a day passes when I do not hear someone say: "I didn't get the e-mail", or "I can't find the e-mail". These have become the standard excuses when someone shows up late (or not at all), or comes unprepared in some way for a meeting or some other commitment.
Furthermore, I receive e-mail messages nearly every day that do not communicate clearly what the sender wished to express. Too often, I am left guessing what the intention was. Sometimes the message is totally confusing and incomprehensible.
The fix is not better software or some other technological improvement. The problem is not that e-mail technology is hard to use.
The solution can only come from within ourselves. We need to learn to pay attention, to be more observant, to be better organized, and to take the time to read and write e-mail messages carefully. If we make these improvements, not only will we communicate more easily with everyone else, we will make our lives better in countless other ways too.
PS: There is a small minority of people who use e-mail well. These folks know who they are and they will know that this GEM is not about them.