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To E-Mail or Not to E-Mail

by M. Carandang <>

"... the amazing thing about this form of communication is we talk about nothing than something. But as I think about it, this nothing has meant more to me than all the other somethings."

Kathleen Kelly, You've Got Mail

I agree and more.

Let me say a few things first. One is that I am hooked on the Internet but have only been in the chatroom once. Second of all, I am a cynical person who has always looked into the subtext of things (thus, being the reason for this article). And third, and I am writing this as an English teacher who believes that the electronic mail transcends the written words making anything possible in cyberspace (and that includes sex, conspiracy and love). The latter of which I will try to describe here with much credibility.

For whom the words toll. Let me qualify first that an electronic mail is just like your ordinary letters or cards or memos or articles (which actually needs no further explanation unless one's from the Himalayas), except (and this is an important semantic coordinator) that it travels fast and that it comes through an inbox. Plus, of course, you have the option to 'delete' or have it printed for posterity by saving it or having it in a file folder.

However, the message in the e-mail is more than just a block of words but rather a meaningful discourse (despite its form and structure). It has become an entirely different text with its own communicative dimension. It elicits a powerful connection, challenges existence and makes room for mutual affection. My friend says 'it defies logic' and I agree and the amazing thing is 'it can make things happen' (at least that's as far as my experience goes).

The electronic message is not just a set of utterances but it has become speech acts. Take the message I'm starting to like you. It's not a proposition but it is in itself an act of saying something with the potential of eliciting a set of responses from the one reading it. It can mean "Do you like me the same way?" or "Can we make this work?" and other connotations that take different possibilities such as taking it in jest or to heart. Out of the inbox endlessly rocking. As someone who has placed value in being interpersonal, I must admit that the electronic mail has convinced me to believe things that cannot be seen or quantified in signs and symbols. I have been checking my inbox more than checking the menu at McDonald's for my lunch. And it has always made sense to me more than the any other things I see everyday.

Moreover, the messages that I get have become perlocutionary acts all together. The words 'you've got mail' have become more than just a string of words to me but rather an entirely new ampersand that lights up just about everything in sight ... a tasteless concoction of capuccino in the cybercafe, an overly giddy chatter beside me or the pelting rains outside and I have no umbrella. It makes me appreciate everything unreal even in the most real situations. If this is not perlocutionary act in the highest order, I do not know how else to call it.

OK, so I have become a more passionate e-mail writer developing the ability to title my e-mails faster than I can write my leads. And as much as I try to put logic in everything about electronic mails and the many possibilities attached to it, the more I don't get it.

The concept of the real world takes a new dimension because in a seemingly unreal space, something is being shared. The check mail icon is my anchor and the inbox my fortress. I remember calling my friend who has been involved in electronic mails a 'techno-babe'. Amazingly, it didn't take long before the tables are turned against me and I am now in the same category and liking every bit of it.

A passionate e-mailer to her love. 2K read. Waiting for connection ...

Yes, writing an electronic mail is what it is. The strange thing is even if the electronic mail is void of any emotional validity unless one comes face to face with one's e-mail partner, it can amazingly affect. What's so good about it is it can make one feel better because despite the opaque truth expressed in an e-mail, the syntactic construction of words are just so meaningful not to be believed.

Even if mishaps are reported because of this highly techonological communication, I would like to say that there still remains a reliable percentage of good people waiting to be connected (or to bluntly put it, be loved). And I would like to believe that I am one of the few who was able to have the chance of actually knowing someone through electronic mail and meaningfully connect.

OK, unlike the lucky others, I haven't met my e-mail partner in person. Everything is just a dream right now but if ever it happens and how ever way my e-mail partner looks like, I am looking forward to the encounter (I can actually hear my brother scoffing off the 'get real' words but I don't mind). It's a once in a lifetime thing, finally coming to terms with a stranger who in some unique ways has become a part of my life in the other kind of space where infinite possibilities tread.

The electronic mail has convinced me to place faith in the seemingly unreal and moreover believe that words can mean what they are. And that in life (even in cyberspace) there are things that are not just meant to be understood all the time but rather instinctively felt. There's more to the written words than phonemes and syntax and logical symbolisms. They can mean more and they can make things happen even in the most surreal contexts.

If I can write what I feel about how electronic mail has changed my point of view and linguistic biases, it will be more than an ode to my inbox but a whole new lyrical outpouring of verses about joys and wishes and sentimental undertones when writing an electronic mail.

It'll be about love. That because the existing world around me has failed to show me how it can happen, the bytes and electronic spaces have made me remember that feeling again with the help of the icons and the hook-up and the messages. It sure is a corny thing to say it but if there is one possibility that can actually happen, it'll be about knowing another person with every typed messages and learning to appreciate the things about that person and all the other things that can be known about that person.

I certainly do not want this to be an affirmation of that Nora Ephron movie but I have to say that to e-mail or not to e-mail is not a question. It is on its own about fate. And there's no question about fate except that it is something one believes.

"There is no someone but there is a dream of someone"

    Kathleen Kelly, You've Got Mail.

This column is reserved for the exhibition of every Gen-Xer's angsts, views, opinions, and such, on things, stuff or issues worth writing about, whether they be experienced in real life or here on cyberspace. Views and opinions on this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the editors of WIRED! Philippines (although we might find ourselves nodding occasionally).


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