Reach out to me

One of the greatest joys of the English language is that it is in constant state of flux. It always has been and, hopefully, always will be, at least so long as we don’t have an English equivalent of the Académie Française or the Real Academia Española, who wiggle their fingers around in the linguistic pot, trying to scoop out anything that might offend their dear-heart sensibilities as regards the purity of their language.

I can’t say I’m overwhelmed by texting shorthand such as ‘c u 4 t’, although I suspect that anyone who uses shortcuts on a regular basis is never likely to want to meet for tea, me or anyone else. (If you want to know just how complex this lingo can be, have a look at It gets worse when they come to you in a language you don’t understand. I received one that signed off with ‘B7’ – a total blank as far as I was concerned until a Valenciano-speaking friend explained that beset is Valenciano for the Spanish word beso, a kiss, the number seven in Spainish is siete, therefore B7=beset=kiss. Not much of a shortcut if I had to get it explained to me.

So no, I don’t have anything particularly against text shorthand just so long as no-one uses it with me. What does bug me, though, is the way that our language is being changed by using totally false intimacy throughout the internet, which, far from actually creating any form of friendliness or confidence is succeeding in doing nothing but really getting my back up.

A couple of days ago I had to write to, the file-shorting website, because I wasn’t able to paste the urls I needed to shorten into the box provide. I explained what my problem was and had an email back from a young lady who shall remain nameless, asking a series of question so that she could help me resolve the problem. I answered them in as much detail as I could. When she replied she did so with an introduction that I’ve been getting for a while now on emails from ‘across the pond’, which I dearly wish they would keep there. Below is my reply.


Nothing has changed. You just told me to do exactly what I said I’d been doing in my first email but without success. The link won’t paste. I’ll use the keyboard or another file shortening system.

One question though. Why do so Americans now reply to an email by saying, “Thanks for reaching out,” whether I’ve simply sent an email or made an enquiry. I haven’t ‘reached out’, I’ve simply sent an email or made an enquiry. It’s almost as if I’ve put out a begging bowl asking for alms. What on earth is wrong with simply saying, “Thanks for your email”, which is perfectly friendly and doesn’t treat the recipient as if they are lesser in some way because they have to ‘reach out’ for help? It’s another case of false intimacy, like calling people who answer online questions, ‘Happiness Engineers’. Happiness has nothing to do with it, they are simply people trained to answer questions and help resolve problems, perfectly acceptable and important, but they do not provide happiness, they simply set themselves up for ridicule.

Sadly, ‘reaching out’ didn’t do me a lot of good because, as I said above, and despite sending all the information you asked for, you just told me to do exactly what I said I’d been doing when I ‘reached out’ in my first email, but without success.



The ‘Happiness Engineer’ is in relation to an enquiry I sent to WordPress about a problem I had. To be fair, the answer I received did resolve the problem, but it was the ending that got me. The charming lady who helped me signed herself off as a ‘Happiness Engineer’, a term that I find particularly nauseating, (see above). This was my email to her, and her reply.

Thank you, I’ve done that.

 Whoever thought of the title Happiness Engineer? Don’t you feel embarrassed by it? It’s one of these awful examples of having to say something different when it really isn’t necessary. It’s like someone saying ‘Thank you for reaching out to me,’ when you sent them an email. I didn’t reach out to them, I sent them an email. It’s as if I held up a begging bowl. What’s wrong with good old ‘Technician’ and ‘Thank you for your email’?

You’re welcome, Derek, and no I’m not embarrassed at all.  I don’t know who thought of the name.  But as cheesy as it might sound, it means more to me than just “tech.”  Most people here have non-standard job titles.  It’s just a part of the culture — and if you ever meet an Automattician in person, you’ll see the titles fit.  You might check out a local WordCamp to see what I mean.  ( )

A couple of points here. The company who set up WordPress, and offer a whole lot of other software, is called Automattic, and it would seem that anyone who works for it is called an Automattician. I don’t remember anyone ever being called a Woolworthician, or a Marks and Spenserician, or, coming even more up to date, a Googleician, (although if they cotton on to Automattic it might not be far off). I suppose it could be a play on ‘mathematician’, but if it is I’d rather they played with something else.

I had a look at the site  suggested, and was reminded of nothing more than the happy-clappy, save your soul, be the bestest person you can be sort of events I went to a few times years ago, when you could say I was more open minded – although I’d say I was more brainwashed and easily influenced. You could see that the attendees were just the sort of people who would love being called ‘Happiness Engineers’ and be every so glad you ‘reached out to them’, and I’ll be forever grateful for the wonderful work they do to make life easier for me, digitally speaking, even if I do find their language more Klingon than comprehensible.

But please, stop destroying my beautiful language with your inane attempts at being my pal. I’m not asking you to use the language of Shakespeare because, to be quite frank, I don’t understand him and I think it’s vastly over-rated. But answer my emails without assuming I’m ‘reaching out’ to you, and realise that by calling yourself a Happiness Engineer you are more likely to be taken for a red-nosed clown than for someone intelligent who might be able to help me resolve a problem.

If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site, Derek Workman, and Spain Uncovered. Articles and books can also be found at Digital Paparazzi.


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