Does Generation Z know how to email properly? An investigation

By Poppy Noor for

This week, Prof Brittney Cooper from Rutgers University caused a small internet storm when she asked a simple question: “Why don’t modern college kids know how to send a formal letter/email?” She added that her students frequently email her simply saying “Hello.”

Needless to say, dear reader, a pile-on ensued, rife with accusations of classism and elitism. Some snot-nosed kids even responded to Cooper’s tweet using the “I pay you to answer my emails” defense – which did little to prove their decorum.

But do young people these days know how to send an email? Were things really that much better in the heyday when we all sat down in class and learned the difference between “yours faithfully” and “sincerely”?

I decided to investigate, starting with my own college emails.

My own emails

While I grew up with the internet (I went to school when Snake was the best game on a phone and polyphonic ringtones were hip) our teachers still believed, at that time, in teaching us formal letter-writing skills. I decided to see whether I extended these skills to my own email decorum at college. The first email I find is from 2012:

Subject: no subject

Hey [Professor’s first name],

Greetings from Slovenia! I have been on holiday and during that time my hermes has been purged so anything you’ve sent me i havent gotten.

Here I start with “hey”, I don’t capitalize or use punctuation properly, and use the word “gotten”, which is not really a word – these all land me minus marks. On the other hand, I used the word greetings, which sounds regal. 1/10.

Read more here.

Help your child learn to read with Reading Kingdom. Sign up today for a free 30 day trial.