In a survey of the use and growth of electronic mail on college campuses in The New York Times, Trip Gabriel quoted Abigail Butler ’96 on the new phenomenon, called “Blitzmail” at Dartmouth and “Broadcast” at Vassar.  “People probably spend easily three hours a day,” Butler reported, “sending and receiving messages.  It’s the No.1 way that romances go on at colleges.  It’s like the dating game online….  One woman, an English major, met a physics major who quoted Shakespeare to her, and it was love at first Broadcast.  I’ve also known people who sat home on Friday and Saturday nights, Broadcasting back and forth to people they know only by nicknames, while the rest of the world goes by.

“After a while, it starts to be really unfulfilling,” Butler—known online as Snow White—continued, “Every Broadcast conversation with someone new is the same for the first 20 messages, finding out who they are.  It’s easier just to meet someone.”

Gabriel’s article provoked a letter to The Times from writer on etiquette Letitia Baldrige ’46.  “The success of Blitzmail,” Jacqueline Kennedy’s former White House social secretary and chief of staff wrote, “is hardly a sign of improved quality of self-expression.  Sentences aren’t made on E-mail. Punctuation isn’t punctuated; spelling is obliterated.  But it doesn’t matter.  It’s the quick thought that counts.  It was only a few years ago that the term ‘couch potato’ was coined to celebrate our obsession with television watching.  Here’s a new idea: ‘chair zuchinni,’ to describe the person stuck to a chair in front of a computer, slouched low and transfixed by a monitor….  Romance, where hast thou gone?  Hast thou gone the way of all manners?”     The New York Times