I got an email from a client the other day that was signed “Love, Jeremy” and it made me smile. It’s not that long ago that I would have baulked at that sign off. Inappropriate. Unprofessional. Lazy. Would have been the words I’d have used to describe my instant reaction – most certainly followed by a reluctance to do business with the writer of the email.
My communications career was born in Government. Where writing etiquette was important and certain expectations needed to be met if you wanted to be taken seriously. A casual style meant a casual attitude and a casual attitude meant you were unlikely to be offered a place at the table with the big kids. I followed these rules for a very long time despite itching every time I wore the cloak of the traditional professional.
Anyone that’s read my blog knows that I am now a different type of professional. I’m a self-appointed professional rule breaker. I abhor complexity and get a bit stabby at any form of unnecessary formality. I constantly straddle the line between corporate (where the bills get paid) and creative (where my soul gets fed).
My writing style is casual and chatty and unless I’m being paid to write I’m fairly lax with my grammar. Deliberately. I like colouring outside the lines. It’s an imperfect world and random fuck ups help remind us that we’re human.
So, back to Jeremy and the title of this post. Jeremy is a millennial and millennials seem to be less confined by old social norms. In fact, they deliberately blur the line between professional and casual, between sensible and silly, between smashed avocado and a simple order of bacon eggs (that’s actually just called ‘bacon & eggs’). I love a millennial. I love that they try stuff that they don’t pretend to be something they’re not and that they jump without a parachute. Sure, not all of these choices work in their favour but at least they’ve put themselves out there on their selfie stick (even if they do apply a filter and fake it at times…who doesn’t?).
Millennials are responsible for so much of the technological social fabric we take for granted today. Pretty much all of our social media were born from the mind of the millennial. They also invent stuff to help others. A titan arm for amputees? A millennial did that. A first aid kit for bees? A millennial did that. A pacific garbage cleaner to rid the ocean of plastics? A millennial did that.
Every generation relies on the foundations from those that preceded them. It’s then their responsibility to take those foundations and grow something fabulous. And I reckon millennials (for the most part) are growing something fabulous.
When I got Jeremy’s email I smiled. It did make me happy but it also took me a few days to work through my corporate baggage neatly stowed in the overhead locker. Did he sign off that way on purpose? Was it an accident? Perhaps he’d just emailed his Mum and was still in that headspace? (who hasn’t added a rogue ‘x’ at the end of a text message to their boss by mistake?). I sought the opinions of my trusted advisers. And by ‘trusted advisers’ I of course mean a Facebook group of my literary and cultural peers!
The overwhelming response was ‘how adorable’ peppered with #istandwithjeremy and a general desire to throw love around like confetti. What a wonderful chorus that was. And they were right. There’s enough hate and anger and rules and stuffy correctness already in the world. Why use it when it’s not really necessary?
Like signing off an email with ‘yours sincerely’ or ‘kind regards’. I mean those signatures are professional and lovely and polite and inoffensive and all those good things. But they’re like mass produced printed artwork. It looks great on your wall, but then it looks great on everyone’s wall and it’s cheap.
So while I doubt I’ll change my usual sign off from ‘cheers’, or my personal favourite, the very simple and elegant tilde, as a card-carrying rule-breaker I’m embracing the sharing of love at work. A signature is a personal thing and a personal difference makes the world go ‘round.
Don’t you think?