September 14, 2011

Signing Your Life Away

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There is no good way to broach this topic, so I am just going to jump in: e-mail signatures. Cornell, they have to go. Is it really that much effort to type your name at the end of an e-mail? I mean, we go to Cornell, we are used to working hard. Writing your name should not be too time-consuming. How many letters is it, really? Ten? Twelve? Eighteen? Maybe if your parents didn’t love you (because you were an accident, or brought their years of freedom and carefree-coupleyness to a swift halt), you have a 30 letter name. Perhaps you are one of those unfortunate fellows with a hyphen and some other random garble attached to the end, and you have 50 letters to type. Kindergarten must have sucked for you — all the other kids went outside while you were stuck inside writing your name on your paper.But 50 letters. That takes 30 seconds to type. And that’s being generous. I saw a black cat eat a big blue bird while a yellow dog watched. (That is a 50 letter sentence, which I typed in 16 seconds. Yes, I timed myself. And I type like my grandmother. Let’s be honest, I type slower than my grandmother). The point is, even being the poor sap with a 50-letter name, it maybe takes you 16 seconds to type it. (Who just counted to see if I actually used 50 letters? Come on, I know you are out there).So now that we have established it takes minimal time to type your name, we need to go back to the real issue here: the signatures. They are not necessary. No one reads them. They even border on pretentious. Especially those obnoxiously long signatures that I see on the bottom of some e-mails. No one cares that you are the president of 15 clubs we have never heard of, the coordinator of your research group, a three-year varsity athlete and a direct descendant of Ezra himself. You know who you are. We don’t need your resume on the end of your email. That is what resumes are for. [Side note: Who applied for an internship at GQ last spring? Apparently, you didn’t succeed in getting the job, but you did succeed in winning Cornell that lovely award. Thanks for that … end side note.]Who receives the majority of your emails? Your parents? Your friends? Your professors? Guess what, they all know you go to Cornell. You even have an @cornell.edu at the end of your email address in case your parents started drinking early in the morning the day they received your tuition bill and forgot where to send the check. When you e-mail your grandmother thanking her for those delicious homemade snickerdoodles, do you really think she forgot where you go to school? She just sent you cookies there! However, there is one exception. There is a time when having a signature on the end of your e-mail is okay: when applying to jobs.About a month ago, I broke down and added an e-mail signature. (I started applying to jobs. Freshmen, you still have three years until you should be adding a signature). I still feel dirty every time I send an e-mail, but it’s all in the name of graduating with a future. Also, my full name sounds really pretentious. William T. Spencer. It sounds like the name of a guy who has a butler named Jeeves. The e-mail signature  allows me to sign my emails with “-Will” so potential employers know I am a down-to-earth guy and prefer to be called by my nickname, but they still have my full name available if they want to hire me. I decided to keep my signature simple. It looks something like this:William SpencerWriter of a biweekly Cornell Daily Sun column that my mother tells me she lovesEx-treasurer of a Swing Dance Club (Yes, ladies I can dance)Peer advisor for a major with only about 14 students in each graduating classOrientation leader for five daysOne time Red Carpet hostAchiever of 97 of the 161 things (I’m having a party when I hit 100, you are all invited)Biometry and Statistics ’12Cornell UniversityOkay, it’s actually only my name and the last two lines. Even still, as simple as my actual signature is, I still feel like I am betraying my deepest personal values each time I hit “send.” To make myself feel like less of a pompous ass, I always type my name at the end of my e-mail — yes, I do both. However, what has made me feel the best about this whole self-betrayal episode is that I have started to alter my signatures when I send emails to people I know. Between my name and the last two lines I add another line with something wonderfully ridiculous. I thought I would offer you a few of my best:William Spencer’99 Hula Hooping ChampionBiometry and Statistics ’12Cornell UniversityMass e-mail writerInventor of Extreme HopscotchAwesome!SoccerphileDescendant of the bubble pipe inventorA personLame Joke Award winnerThumb Twiddling EnthusiastOfficial Sunset JudgeSignature haterThese are just the beginning, Cornell; the world of ridiculous signatures is your oyster.Will Spencer is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He may be reached at wspencer@cornellsun.com. Tripping Up Stairs appears alternate Thursdays this semester.

Original Author: Will Spencer