Language of the Internet


Anne Michael

If you are reading this column and the others on Bibliobuffet, you have a computer and that computer is hooked to the Internet in some way. If you have the Internet, it is quite likely that you have an e-mail address. If you have an e-mail address you’ve discovered the joys of communicating without a trip to the post office and the price of postage. I do have to wonder if any of us are really saving any money by communicating this way since we can send a boatload of letters with postage for the cost of one month’s service. Anyway if you are sending your friends bits of news and interesting things you find out there in cyberspace, it’s my guess that your friends happily return the favor. 

I think e-mail is fun. It’s much better than the bills I get in the mailbox out by my curb. Plus the e-postal system seems to have a far more efficient delivery system than the folks who deliver the mail to my mailbox. My postman doesn’t seem to be the sharpest crayon in the box. I’ve gotten wedding invitations up to eight weeks after the wedding was over, because the guy delivered it to the house of a snowbird, same number, different street. (And this sort of thing happens fairly often.) So from the delivery perspective, e-mail has a positive side to it. I love opening my “mailbox” and seeing the name of someone I like; it’s even more fun sending the junk mail into “spam hell,” courtesy of my ever-vigilant security software.

Last Wednesday was an e-mail bonanza kind of day. One of my work friends sent me a great letter she got from a co-worker who had run his first marathon. It was gripping, absorbing, and it moved me to tears with the drama yet ended with a feeling of jubilation at learning this person finished against seemingly insurmountable odds. His tale would make for great book!

E-mail also has things I don’t like such—online shorthand that make no obvious sense like LOL. (I always thought that was loll spelled wrong and could never figure out why someone would throw the word in the middle of an e-mail.) Finding out it meant “laugh out loud” was a bit of a let down, but also a relief now that I knew my friend was not the idiot he or she appeared to be. Then there are things like TTFN, ROLF and BFF, none of which make sense to me at all—but then in the internet world, I am a dinosaur. The other thing that makes me crazy is the abbreviations. I recently received an e-mail from a casual acquaintance I’d happily not communicated with for several years. She decided on a lonely day to check and see if my “addy” still worked. (Another annoying abbreviation that took me a while to figure out it wasn’t a typo. I couldn’t imagine why or how this person could get me confused with someone who had an adder; I don’t even wear snakeskin prints.) I was as relieved as I was astounded when my son cleared up my confusion by telling me it was short for address. Wow, did I feel dumb! It’s as though I have to learn an entirely different language just to send e-mail. Communication, it seems to me, is so much easier when people actually talk to one another in the same language.  

Still, there is a definite upside to e-mail. I get to hear from people who live far away from me more often since writing letters is not something they enjoy doing. But put a keyboard beneath their fingers, and they go like thunder. Lest you think that I’m a paragon of letter-writing virtue and send strictly snail mail, think again. I’m hooked on e-mail myself. I love the funny stories and jokes that pass from one to another. I admire the calls to action or bravery. I marvel at the creativity of the feel good e-mail chain letters and the perverse determination of the spammers.

While Wednesday was a day of e-mail greatness today, I’m sad to say, was not. I got a glorious e-mail from a friend I’ve known since we were young married women just starting our families. She sent a beautifully decorated e-mail about friendship and how important that our relationship was to her. My heart swelled with overwhelming emotion. Tears threatened to flow. I resolved at that moment to pick up the phone and call her to rekindle the flame of friendship that 1300 miles and many years had banked to an ember. I was touched and determined to keep up my side of the friendship equation until I noticed that the e-mail was not sent just to me, but a group of her 30 “closest friends.” That list took the wind out of the sails of my ship named “resolution.” I didn’t call her, but the thought was nice and I’ll probably respond, via e-mail, one of these days. At least I’m glad she cared enough to include me on that list so I know the ember hasn’t gone out altogether.

There is a certain pleasure in taking a leisurely cruise along the information highway. E-mail is but one way. There is much to learn, interesting things to see, videos, facts, forums for everything, even entire books online. Heck, my daughter even met her husband online. So many things are possible. But one of those for which I’m most glad is that you choose to visit my column here in Bibliobuffet. Thank you! No abbreviations, no acronyms. Just thank you. I appreciate it. May your life be seasoned lightly and just right with humor, good thoughts and good friends and good books!

At age 10, Anne realized she was never going to get to be Miss America since reading a book was not an acceptable talent. So she went on to get a job and raise a family. Along the way, she fixed meals, picked up toys, helped with homework, and collected a drawer full of rejection slips for her “great American novel.” It was not all bad, however, since she ended up wallpapering a closet with them. She currently designs and creates greeting cards for her tiny company, The Frog Prints, LLC, and also works full-time as a Training Specialist. Anne is currently tethered to reality by a loving spouse, two dogs, one cat and the occasional hurricane that blows through Florida, although falling headlong and happily into a book is still her favorite “talent.” She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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