A Guide to Email for that Forward-Loving Family Member

Dear Dad,

I’m happy to read something written by you. Really, I am.

However, I’m tired of reading reams of forwarded drivel. (But please do not think you are responsible for this.) Being one of these “modern generation” kiddies (and especially in my case) I spend a lot of time on the computer already. I have to learn to skip through huge amounts of junk to find small morsels of information. This is a rather typical characteristic of anyone that has an office-like job (or lifestyle, in my case….). …Unless they’re in the HR department… my god, I can only imagine.


When I open my email inbox, I always look at my unread emails. First, I look at who sent it – you get bonus points here, since you’re my dad. πŸ™‚ Then, I look at the subject of the email and mentally assign an importance value to it. All forwarded email has “FWD” or “FW” (or something equivalent) in the subject and is almost immediately classified as optional, in my mind. (In the past, I’ve even automated this process by creating email filters that sort all forwards into an ‘unimportant’ folder I can browse later.) I scan the rest of the subject and decide if it interests me enough to open it. If not, I delete it.


If it gets this far, I’ve opened it and I’m scanning the first few sentences. If I’m then assaulted by multicoloured, size 64 text, I click “Delete.” If I’m told to read to the bottom, I click “Delete.” If some generic text telling me the person sending this email cares about me and warns me that if I don’t send it to five more of my friends then I’m a horrible person… yup, I click “Delete” – but faster, this time. If I actually read the forwarded email (not incredibly likely), it might be something I find a little amusing and it may even make me smile. It’s true, sometimes I smile. Then I’ll click “Delete.” In fact, the ultimate location for all forwards will most likely be the Trash. They’re generally trivial monologues that don’t yield discussion and I don’t care to pass them on.

Nothing Personal

99% of the email you send me are forwards. No questions directed at me. Rarely information about you. And I’m one of many recipients, so it couldn’t have been that important.

If you’re going to attach personal commentary to FWDs, I really recommend putting it at the top to maximize the possibility that it is seen. Please do not get upset if I didn’t read that hilarious joke about the fisherman and the hunter, or I missed the 20 unbelievable factoids about pears and the 10-step guide to common sense and self-betterment. They probably ended up in the trash, along with the others. This is typical of email forwards and, just like forwards themselves, nothing personal.

Bottom Line

I’m not asking you to stop sending forwards. Reducing the quantity certainly couldn’t hurt, I suppose…. But please try to understand the value of a forward to someone like me. I would value one short sentence written for me, lacking punctuation, within an email that has no subject much more than any forward (with or without supplementary commentary). Tell ya what, I’ll even reply. πŸ˜‰

Love always,

Your geeky son, Steven.


  1. It’s interesting — because my mom forwards a bunch of stuff too. Now, not as much, since she finally realized that some of the stuff she thought were true ended up being proven urban myths (pointed out by me).

    I guess I don’t get as much FWDs as you do though. I tend to leave my mom’s FWDs “unread” until I have the time to skim it, and then archive it. She tends to forward it to like, only 5 people, so I suppose that increases the value of the forwards… πŸ˜€

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