If I’m completely honest with myself, I’d have to say that I lack a certain finesse when it comes to signing off on an email. I usually end with a stilted “Best” or worse “Best Wishes”. I left behind “Sincerely” years ago mainly because I thought it too formal and commonplace among the employment cover letter or business email to be a part of my daily correspondence. But, I didn’t abandon all signoffs. Sometimes I accidentally slip in a “regards” at the end of an email to my mother only realizing it after I hit ‘send’.
Just as I was getting frustrated and self-conscious about my “Respectfully yours” and “Best regards”, I read an article on Slate.com about this very issue. Matthew J.X. Malady’s article, “You Say ‘Best’, I Say No” is a humorous but scathing assault on the email signoff. He claims that we have moved beyond the flowery and overly formal days of letter writing in which the signoff was important. He offers the example of a James Chamberlain writing to his mother in Ireland in 1891. Ending a letter with “I remain your ever fond son in Christ Our Lord J.C.,” was perfectly acceptable then. But we live in a different universe now with instant access to social media, email and other electronic forms of communication. Who signs off on a text? No one, unless you are a time traveler from the 19th century perhaps. Malady leads the charge against the death of the email signoff. He insists that these awkward and sometimes misleading salutations are the past not the future of electronic communication. He asks us, “can’t we all just agree to opt for “none of the above” and finally take comfort in ending our emails with the actual last thing that we want to say?”
Best….I mean, nevermind.