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  • Nancy Spear

"Is this what they do nowadays?”

My client stared at her niece’s email reply. Then looked at me and said, “There’s nothing there.”

I pointed to the very top of the email. “This is a thumbs-up emoji. She received your email. This is what she sent back.”

“I sent her a long email! I asked her questions! Is this what they do nowadays?,” she replied.

I felt her disappointment. Only a few days earlier, she emailed her niece a beautiful letter. She used flowery adjectives to express herself and made sure she asked how her niece’s mother was doing. Then she went back and added how nice the dinner was last time they saw each other. All she got back was a thumbs-up emoji.

We continued checking the rest of her emails and came upon one from her doctor’s office with a prescription attached. She moved on to the next one but I asked, “Aren’t you going to reply?” She said no, she would see the doctor in a few weeks.

“Hold on,” I said, “You were just upset that your niece only gave you a thumbs up. This came from someone who took time to send you a prescription. She won’t know if you’ve received it if you don’t reply.”

“Oh, you’re right,” she said, realizing her mistake. She typed up a quick thank you and hit Send.

So how did we get from writing sweet, expressive letters to thumbs-up emails? This isn’t a tech tip and I’m not telling you what to do. But when you email your great uncle or grandma, you have the choice of making their day with a thoughtful email or have them hunting on their screen for a thumbs-up emoji. I’m sure you’ll do the right thing.

Nancy Spear

Nancy's Tech Help for Older Adults

310-365-9951 •

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