“Sent from my Iphone”
It began as a humblebrag and an excuse. It meant, “I am using an expensive mobile device to send this email, so please don’t judge my spelling errors, lack of punctuation, or clipped sentences.”
Yes, I am talking about email signatures.
These signatures, automatically generated, would not have been an auspicious place to look for creativity or wry humour. And yet, it seems like every other day I come across someone who has crafted a little message that says and does a lot more than beg forgiveness and flaunt status.
One of my clients’ (yes, client) always cracks me up: “Sent from a device. Regularly messed up by autocorrect. But duck it.”
I’ve seen it numerous times and I love it each time. But duck it. Haha.
Also a good friend of mine who seems to have a love/hate relationship with his phone: “Sent from an over-rated phone.” In which made me have the urge to change mine (just for the purpose of spoiling) into: “Sent from a device that needs no advertisement.”
And the list goes on and on.
- Jokey: “Sent from my telco slingshot”
- Boring: “Sent from Mobile Device”
- Almost There: “Sent from a telephone”
- Calm: “Sent from the street”
- Mysterious: “Sent from my illustrated primer”
- Clever: “Sent from my camera”
- Retro: “Sent from my steam-powered printing press”
- Implausible: “Sent from the future”
The fact that one CAN change the signature text means that some people will, and when they do, it becomes a decision for everyone. Doing it says something, and not doing it also says something. And once it’s a choice, rather than a default, creativity and identity signalling will creep in through that crevice.
And it got me thinking: there should really be a Hall of Fame for these lines, a specific Tumblr or blog, a gallery of all the permutations that humans can generate playing off a single line of default text.
Scrolling through my inbox and, wow, apparently there is amusement in me to the point that I decided to write a blog post specifically about it.
What really caught my attention is that people saw a basic grammar to iPhone signature witticisms. You put a single line of text in front of millions of people, and they start to decompose it into playable components.
The general slash most popular way to personalise the signature was to play with the implicit apology (like I said, humblebrag) for any misspelled words that may caused by typing in a virtual keyboard on a smartphone.
The surface content of the message is that you’re receiving a message from a device. But the typo of device conveys an implicit status message, while the presence of the line provides an in-advance apology for any errors as well as an indication you’re mobile out there in the world (or at least not at your computer).
Using this general form, we can create a loose taxonomy of the signature edits. (Yes, I know I’m taking this too seriously. Sent from a nerd in data heaven. Expect overthinking.)
So, apology. These come in two flavours. The first is to actually apologise with words:
- Sent from iPhone, spelling might vary because I have fat fingers.
- Sent from mobile device, all error self-inflicted.
And the second is to intentionally misspell the signature so that you know that I know that you know that I’m sending an implicit apology.
- Sent from iPhone, kindly excuse tyops.
- Sent from my iPhern. Sory fer any typeos.
And then things start to get a little weird.
I also got many people treating their phone like a human being by giving names, sort of. “Sent from my pinky berry device” or “Sent from my Annabelle”
A Star Trek nerd uses “Sent from my Holodeck”, a Star Wars fan uses “Sent from a galaxy far, far away”, and a Tolkien geek uses “Sent from a hole in the ground.”
(I kinda like these three, though.)
There were some that probably started with good intention by spreading kind messages but resulted in a creepier way than how it should be. Sorry, though
Like, what to do with this one? “You look nice today.”
I mean, yeah.
Ok, I have to admit that I deeply moved by the variation of creativity (not to mention effort) that people put in their email signatures. So if you happen to have a smartphone that is able to modify/personalise your email signature then might as well do it. Email signature is like a fashion statement, I’d say. They tell stories about you.
Like this one who happened to catch my attention:
“I mail on the move / So excuse my brevity / Here is a Haiku”
Typed on a keyboard, obviously. No kidding.