The underlying idea of using email to deliver unpleasant news isn’t all that novel. You’ve probably had to phone someone to cancel plans and were relieved to get their voice mail or answering machine rather than the actual person, and you may have even heard of situations where people have broken up over the phone. Breaking up in writing was common enough for the term “Dear John Letter” to be coined. In these situations, the bearer of bad news is trying to weasel out of having to deal with the reaction.
Listing the reasons for a breakup, whether the breakup is taking place in person, by postal mail, over the phone or email, isn’t new, either. What is new is listing the reasons in point form.
I think that the “Dear Jane” emails that those people received were inspired by elements of office culture: PowerPoint, project post-mortems and annual performance reviews. Of the people who told me that they were dumped via email, all of their boyfriends worked white-collar jobs in which they either sat through or made PowerPoint presentations.
Having been dumped several times by people who never had the common decency to confront me in person, then refuse to answer mail or phone calls, I totaly agree. But I think the problems go deeper. We live in a disposable culture, where people and relationships become disposable as well. Rather than working things out, and growing and learning from the experience, people “move on” without growing or learning at all. Those of us who get left behind sometimes take the initiative to enter therapy or treatment and come to understandings about ourselves, grow, learn, and change. But those who choose to simply walk away from problems with other people never change, never grow, and never bother to learn anything about themselves or other people. They prefer to remain as they are, and then wonder why they have the same problems relating to other people.
Yes, sometimes things can’t be resolved, that’s true. And sometimes they just aren’t worth it. But deep, meaningful relationships that have lasted for a long time are well worth saving, and to leave those behind over disagreements that could be worked out with time is just sad, and, in the end, gains nothing for those who are willing to let them go. Our culture suffers greatly from its shallowness, and those who practice the shallowness may never know the real depths of friendship, love, and passion.