Can I quit now? Sarcasm and e-mail

Earlier this week I posted about a study that showed how difficult it can be for people to detect sarcasm in an e-mail message. I was reminded of this fact this morning when listening to NPR‘s Morning Edition. The story, which is linked to below, was about former FEMA director Michael Brown, and his role in the hurricane Katrina mess. Well apparently e-mails were released that Brown had sent to an aid, stating “Can I quit now, Can I go home?” I am not defending Brown, nor stating that this was in fact sarcasm. But it very possibly could be him just venting. It all depends on context, and context is difficult to convery in an email message. My post today is less about Brown, and more about you, me, and everyone who sends emails. I can think of many stressful situations where I have sent an e-mail to a colleague in a tongue in cheek fashion, and how read literally, it could come back to haunt. Michael Brown has made his bad situation worse by his emails. Don’t make the same mistake. Context matters. Be careful what you say and how you say it.
NPR : Ex-FEMA Chief to Testify Again on Katrina Response

1 Response to “Can I quit now? Sarcasm and e-mail”

  1. 1 drmike February 10, 2006 at 6:26 pm

    That’s why you should always use a humour tag. 🙂

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