In which Rachel Simmons and I take on the Watergate of modern email etiquette: the workplace XO.
XO has surfaced in the digital correspondence of everyone from Arianna Huffington to Nora Ephron. Wendy Williams, the talk-show host, says she wishes she could stop using it, but just can’t. Anne-Marie Slaughter—foreign-policy wonk, Princeton professor, and she who still can’t have it all—doesn’t xo, but knows several professional women who do. In Diane Sawyer’s newsroom, staffers say, the anchor uses xo so frequently that its omission can spark a major panic.
“I feel like xo has taken on its own kind of life,” says Karli Kasonik, a Washington consultant.
“I do it, most women I know do it,” says Asie Mohtarez, a writer and social-media editor.
“In my field, you almost have to use it,” says Kristin Esposito, a yoga instructor in New York.
It’s long been thought that how a word sounds — its very phonemes — can be related in some ways to what that word means. But language is no longer solely oral. Much of our word production happens not in our throats and mouths but on our keyboards. Could that process shape a word’s meaning as well?
That’s the contention of an intriguing new paper by linguists Kyle Jasmin and Daniel Casasanto. They argue that because of the QWERTY keyboard’s asymmetrical shape (more letters on the left than the right), words dominated by right-side letters “acquire more positive valences” — that is to say, they become more likable. Their argument is that because its easier for your fingers to find the correct letters for typing right-side dominated words, the words subtly gain favor in your mind.Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]
How much does the Internet know about you? A shit ton, apparently. In which I let a tech company dig up everything they can about me on the web, and create a portrait of my life—using nothing but my name and email address.