January 2008 Unethical Websites

Unethical Website: Breakupemail.com

E-mail etiquette is still evolving. Some uses for e-mail that were once regarded as unforgivably rude, such as sympathy notes, have gradually become accepted as fewer and fewer users regard electronic messages as significantly different from their postal equivalents. Now that staple of romantic heartbreak, the "Dear John" letter, is moving into cyberspace. But remember that the proper "Dear John" letter was originally a product of necessity, a timely communication that a relationship was over when a face-to-face meeting was impossible. Personal relationships should be ended personally; that principle hasn't changed, though customs have.

But even giving e-mail break-ups the benefit of the ethical doubt, there can be no argument that basic respect, accountability and fairness require that at very least the e-mail itself should be drafted by the exiting party. Breakupemail.com, January's Unethical Website, indulges our most cowardly and mean-spirited impulses by facilitating custom-written, computer generated e-mails designed to cause maximum pain.

Or perhaps they are intended to be funny. The callous website does not make it clear; here is a sample from the site's FAQ page:

3. Why should I dump him/her by e-mail?
Three possibilities:
     a) you are a pansy-assed scaredy-cat unwilling, or too afraid, to even dump him/her over the phone;
     b) you are too lazy to leave your computer and tell him/her in person;
     c) he/she deserves to be dumped by e-mail.

4. What kind of loser dumps someone by e-mail?
See question 3

The crucial point is that nobody deserves to be dumped by e-mail, so making it easier for people to do so is an unethical act. Deriding the practice the site is promoting is cute, but it doesn't relieve the site of accountability for encouraging users to put their names on messages like this one, which the site generated for me based on my selections from multiple options…

Dear Jack,

I'm writing you this email because I think our relationship has run its course. Your arrogance seems to have no limits; it's as if you think you're actually somebody. You know, a little respect can go a long way. But the amount of respect you give me is only enough for ME to go a long way. A long way away from you! And another thing: take a freakin shower! You smell so bad that the garbage collectors wonder what the smell is when they come down the street.

I don't know how to break it to you, but I found someone else to replace you. You know what they say: out with the old, in with the new!

Some people get very little money out of their job. Some people get dumped. Joy of joys, you get both. Another problem is that you're irresponsible, and I just don't want to put up with the consequences of your decisions anymore. What really breaks the deal is your horrible grammar. Srsly d00d, learn 2 rite a sentance!

Sorry, but you're not even worth keeping as a friend. I may love you, but I'm definitely not in love with you. You're gonna have to learn to accept that. I'm sure we'll see each other again, if you're ok with it. I think you get the idea: this relationship is over.

Enjoy yourself!

The Ethics Scoreboard

And what hurts most is that the Scoreboard couldn't even take the time to write its own message, after all these years…




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