Remember when email signatures were short, informative and relevant? I’m wondering what happened. Today, I see far less of what’s above and far more—well, far more everything.
Students today are making their email signatures into self-reflective shrines, and honestly, it makes me wonder what values we’re cultivating here at Lawrence. Close friends of mine, colleagues I respect, and students who are among Lawrence’s best have given up simple rules of email signature etiquette and now seem to prefer typed egotism. It’s awful.
There was a period of time—maybe 24 hours—when even I thought about writing my signature as a miniature resume. I mean, why not, right? As a sophomore, I was feeling pretty good about my newly appointed positions, my sense of leadership and my desire to be successful.
But I stopped myself. I knew people would look at me as foolish—and even worse—arrogant. Today, I notice that many students don’t feel this way. Somehow, they’ve tricked themselves into thinking that showing more on a signature somehow means they are more professional, more accomplished or more deserving of the roles they’re privileged to have.
Lawrence, we have to tell our mistaken fellow students that they are wrong in this case. No student—not even if you’re president of three clubs—should have a signature longer than five lines. Once you’re a full professor, chair of the department and leader of two campus initiatives, yes, by all means write what you will. But, students, nothing we do is that relevant to our email readers.
In fact, what message are you sending, when you send a fellow student a signature that resembles your résumé? Certainly, they’re not giving you a job. And more likely than not, they already know you do the thing you do. So, why the need to remind them? Often, there’s no reason to remind them at all—I mean, if you’re a treasurer, does anybody really need to know?
My only conclusion is that we at Lawrence are losing our sense of modesty and our belief in professionalism. We have become too careerist, too individualist and too interested in our own success. In seeking affirmation, we speed toward boasting, and an email signature is an important sign that shows it.
If you see this occurring as I do, I encourage you to correct this creeping shift in Lawrence’s student culture. Politely tell your friend when their signature is offensive. Point out that they might not need to list their minors. And check yourself, because I guarantee that long signatures will embarrass you one day.
-All the best,
Lawrence University ‘14
Majors: Anthropology & Communication
Minor: Dystopian Studies
President, Concerned Students of Lawrence
Member, Mu Epsilon Nu (MEN) – Eta Zeta chapter
Entrepreneur, Stickey, LLC
Performer, Third Grade Choir at Appleton Heights Elementary School