Thanks for nothing

Andy Borowitz is a humorist (a comedian; someone who tries to be funny). His website is filled with fake (invented; not real) news stories that are, depending on your political views, supposed to be funny (similar to The Onion). In a recent article, Borowitz wrote that he often gets emails from people asking him for favors (something you do for someone else to help them). He always replies to these emails, even when the answer is “no.” After sending the email, he waits and typically gets…nothing. The person he emailed never writes back to say “thank you.”

Borowitz suggests that even if you are not really a polite person, you should at least try to be polite, even when it is “fake politeness.” To be polite means to be nice, to communicate in a way that is not mean or rude. Saying “thank you” when someone does something for you is usually considered polite.

I agree with Borowitz. I have often received emails from people I know (family members, friends, people I used to work with) asking me for information or for favors. I usually give them the information or at least reply to their email in some way, but I almost never hear anything from them again. Imagine walking up to someone, asking her a question, and then after she answers it, walking away without saying a word. Yet that is exactly what happens on email all the time. I mean, how long does it take to type “Okay, thanks!”?

I know that many people think email is an informal way of communicating, and they perhaps don’t want to send the other person emails they consider unnecessary. But in my view (opinion), “thank you” is never unnecessary.

Let me be clear that the situation is generally NOT true for listeners of ESL Podcast! I almost always get a “thank you” back when people email me and I am able to help them, so please don’t interpret this as a complaint about you, our dear listeners! I’m referring (talking about) other people…you know who you are.