[Air-l] e-mail destroying friendships?

Charles Ess cmess at lib.drury.edu
Sun Apr 20 17:55:03 PDT 2003

Dear AoIR-ers -

Perhaps only a philosopher would take two data points and create a
generalization (smile) - but my curiosity has been tickled regarding the
following scenario:

a friend with a specific political viewpoint regularly forwards e-mails to a
list of friends;
at some point, someone in the group strongly disagrees with the perspective
/ argument represented in a forward - and, instead of ignoring the matter,
fires back to the whole group;
the original sender is embarrassed, angry, etc. - and promptly excludes the
debater from the list for subsequently forwards.

This has happened to me recently - and, entirely unrelatedly to my own
experience, to a friend.  The friend commented: I think e-mail is destroying

O.k. - two data points; but I'm curious if the multitude of expert aoir
researchers have looked into this phenomenon, especially in the current
context (the war, notions of patriotism, etc., make for especially fractious
debates) - perhaps as
(a) an e-mail analogue to the now well-known and well-researched phenomena
of flaming, etc.;
(b) a counterpoint to the multiple ways in which e-mail works to foster and
reinforce relationships?


Charles Ess
Distinguished Research Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies
Drury University
900 N. Benton Ave.                          Voice: 417-873-7230
Springfield, MO  65802  USA            FAX: 417-873-7435
Home page:  http://www.drury.edu/ess/ess.html
Co-chair, CATaC: http://www.it.murdoch.edu.au/catac/

Exemplary persons seek harmony, not sameness. -- Analects 13.23

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