Monday, August 13, 2012

Flying Fig

Back when I was a l'il un, toiling away in a one-room schoolhouse with the dozen other kids in my settlement who had not yet died of cholera, typhoid, or scurvy, I remember that they taught us the proper way to prepare a letter. At or near the top of the parchment, you started things off with "Dear Reginald", regardless of who you were actually writing the letter to. I presume that if you were a cretin of some sort and broke with this convention, you were likely sent off to some dark and foreign land, like Canada. Eventually, with the invention of indoor plumbing, rain gutters, and personal computers, everyone transitioned away from actual paper letters to email and other electronic communication forms. However, even here, things were still expected to begin with "Dear Reginald".

I read in the news headlines the other day that over the last decade or so, the greeting portion of our communications has essentially gone the way of the dodo. Even when it is included, the salutation is now most often omitted. I was kind of taken by surprise in reading this, because I typically start my various form of communication with the word "Dear".

Now that I know the new paradigm, and upon further reflection, I guess that I have never much been comfortable with the term "Dear". To my mind, "Dear" means something cherished and valued. Usually I couldn't give a flying fig about most of the folks I communicate with, so using the opening word "Dear", has likely given them the wrong idea about my feelings for them. This changes everything.