Feature

Should more emails begin with 'dear?'

Email writers are abandoning the formal greetings generations of Americans used to begin their letters. Is casual communication so bad?

More and more emailers are doing away with "dear" and other old formalities to begin their notes, addressing each other with "hey," "hi," or other casual salutations instead, according to The Wall Street Journal. Some say it's because "dear" implies intimacy that is inappropriate in today's business world. Others say it's because of a loss of etiquette. Which is it — is dropping "dear" a sign of societal breakdown or a natural evolution in our electronic age?

"Dear" is a thing of the past: "Dear" was fine for "a parchment letter to your grandmother," says Jen Doll in The Village Voice, but in an email it comes across as "creepy" or "overly formal." Besides, "as we strive to confine our sentiments to the space allotted to text messages" and tweets, we need to cut "extraneous" words. "It's not that we're becoming ruder, it's that we're becoming more efficient."    
"R.I.P., the word 'dear'"

Manners are important: People who don't use "dear" simply "lack polish," says business expert Lydia Ramsey, as quoted by the Journal, and they come across as being "abrupt." Addressing an email more formally "sets the tone for that business relationship, and it shows respect." Besides, it adds a certain warmth to an otherwise cold form of communication, and "email is so impersonal it needs all the help it can get."
"Hey, folks, here's a digital requiem for a dearly departed salutation"

It depends on the situation: Trying to decide which salutation to use "makes writing emails so confusing," says Max Read at Gawker. Your opening line should vary depending on the recipient and the situation. Start a complaint letter with "Sirs," and a recommendation letter with "To whom it may concern." And with a letter of resignation, try, "PEACE OUT Y'ALL."
"How to start a letter"

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