Thursday, August 30, 2007

Who are you?

I had an experience this week that may be of interest to students of adolescent and young adult experience (and might be a slight cautionary tale for would-be submitters). As part of some volunteer work I do, I'm involved in hiring a person for a certain job. Because of the nature of this position, applicants are typically young, early-career, college types or retirees. Much of the communication in this process has been via email and this is where the interesting observation occurred.

We were deciding who should contact a certain candidate and when it was decided that I would do it, I asked for the candidate's email address. Someone read it aloud to me and immediately there were snickers from my colleagues (all of whom are older than I am, some by several decades). The candidate's address was an address from a well-known email service (one s/he might reliably keep for years, even if s/he moves and changes ISPs), but the ID was a slightly funny nickname (something like "greengopher" might cause the same reaction) that bore no resemblance to the candidate's actual name. Someone at the table said something to the effect of "well, that tells you something about [the candidate] right there." Some nodded their agreement, and we soon moved on to other business.

This got me thinking about several things, though. What an interesting quandary for this person and for our culture in general. The candidate was young enough to have had this email address since high school, conceivably, when, perhaps, s/he was instructed by vigilant parents not to choose an ID that gave away his/her name (interesting to note that eBay has a similar policy for all of its users). This person's good-kid act was hurting him/her as s/he began to try to act like an adult. I was also interested in how different this was from my reaction to the address. I was relatively unfazed by the non-name ID (though I find it slightly irritating from a practical standpoint), but I was much more relieved to see that the address was at a reliable, major email provider and was likely an individual's account, as opposed to addresses I'd encountered earlier in the discussion, which were on the order of:

Addresses like these in any circumstance (but particularly here at work) give me hives because I always have the impression that my correspondence is with a large number of people with access to the account and that the person who gave me the address does not see email as a first-priority, check-it-every-day communications medium. It immediately feels like a hassle in the making, in other words.

Neither reaction is fair or right, but aren't they interesting?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

that is interesting. i think it's a good idea to have a home address and a work address ie: your name plus your website address or something. or the like isn't as professional as something like:

you know?