Another sign of the times: it turns out that “Dear” is becoming, in popular e-mail correspondence, a four-letter word.
From the Wall Street Journal:
When Abraham Lincoln wrote to Ulysses S. Grant in July 1863, after a key victory during the Civil War, he began his letter, “My dear General.”
When Giselle Barry emailed a throng of reporters recently to tell them about an important development regarding her congressman boss, she started the message, “Hey, folks.”
Like many modern communicators, Ms. Barry, a spokeswoman for Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, has nixed the salutation “dear” in her emails.
“Dear is a bit too intimate and connotes a personal relationship,” she said.
Ms. Barry said she wants to keep her business communications with the press at “the utmost and highest level of professionalism.”
Across the Internet the use of dear is going the way of sealing wax. Email has come to be viewed as informal even when used as formal communication, leaving some etiquette experts appalled at the ways professional strangers address one another.
People who don’t start communications with dear, says business-etiquette expert Lydia Ramsey, “lack polish.”
“They come across as being abrupt,” says Ms. Ramsey, who founded a Savannah, Ga., etiquette consultancy called Manners That Sell.
“It sets the tone for that business relationship, and it shows respect,” she says. “Email is so impersonal it needs all the help it can get.”
But to Kevin Caron, the word dear seems girlie. While he may begin an occasional email to a female family member with dear, Mr. Caron, a sculptor in Phoenix, would never use it when writing a man, even a client.
“Guys talking to guys—I’m sorry, that’s against the code,” says Mr. Caron, a 50-year-old former trucker and auto-repair-shop worker.
Oh dear. Read the rest. And then write a letter to someone you know. And start with “dear,” okay?