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The paperless office was an idea that first turned up in the press a couple years back when computers were first coming onto the corporate scene. Now, a few years later, the idea is still just that: an idea. I donít know of anyplace where the paperless office has really been implemented.

In fact, Iíve read that paper use has actually gone up, since it's so easy to print out documents and other little things. Let's say Betsy Workywoman got a funny e-mail. She thinks to herself, "Ooooh, this is soooo cute, everyone has to see this! I'll print it out, and forward it to everyone in the company!" I feel pity for these people.

The next comment is only aimed at people who forward e-mails often: if you have the need to hit the "Forward" button, really think about if you should send it out. Also, if you've already forwarded more than, say, five pieces of funny e-mail to a person in a week, do not send another. People like forwarded e-mails just about as much as they like someone saying a joke he heard awhile ago, but instead he says, "Well, I'd rather not tell it to you... here, just read this."

Also, another e-mail guideline for the office and home: don't send dumb e-mails. If you have an important message, and you're a couple feet (even a hundred feet!) from your intended recipient, just walk over and orally tell him or her. That person will thank you, and you'll make sure they get the message. If you would have e-mailed it to your recipient, he may not have even noticed it as he was deleting all the junk humor mail in his In-Box.

So paper use has gone up. Great. The environment is being drowned in toner-soaked pages of witty quotes, not-true-even-though-they-say-they-are stories, and excerpts from "Chicken Soup for the Soul." What ever happened to that paperless office thought?

Apparently, it's gone into the bathroom. Yeah, the company is skimping on toilet paper. Why? Because it's buying extra paper for these misguided individuals who feel the need to show off some anonymous computer geek's cool pictures he made with text. You know, cool things, such as:

We must stop this, now. People who dislike these stupid e-mails and other forms of mind pollution are in the majority, not the minority. It seems like we're in the minority, though, because annoying people always have a loud, high-pitched voice on TV. How do we prevent such icky people from taking over the Earth and, eventually, blasting off into other parts of the universe and taking over other, much more advanced civilizations with their powers of mind-boggling annoyingness?

Never fear, there are many ways, and I'm here to get you to start combating the forces of unnecessariness. The first items have to do with e-mail. If you get one of these humorous or sappy e-mails, calmly reply to just the person who sent this to you that you'd like to be removed from their mailing list. Heck, send them a joke along with your request, since they'll take it as a sign that you already have enough jokes. Oh, and if there's a big list of recipients for this person's e-mail, reply to all of them as a group with a polite messages saying something to the effect of, "Do you hate these e-mails like I do? Just start asking to be removed from the sender's list!" Some people are scared to do this, but all you're doing is helping the sender realize (however long it may take for them) that these kinds of e-mails don't need to go out in such large quantities.

As for junk e-mail (called "spam") from companies and corporations, do just the opposite: act like you're not even there. If you reply to an e-mail, or even visit some of the web sites mentioned in the spam, it'll signal the keeper of the junk mailing list, "Hey, this person actually reads this stuff! They'll pay lots for this guy's name!"

Also, watch yourself committing the same mistakes seen here. Don't send out too many e-mails. Try to get as much information in as little space as possible. That's the way to write on the internet... no loopy handwriting on the web! Also, if you own a business, avoid the temptation of doing such things as buying "10 Million E-mail Addresses for $79.00." If you're out to ruin your reputation with everyone on the web, do a mass e-mailing. Otherwise, if you plan to make money on the web, avoid spam lists like the plaque. Instead, to get coverage for your product, try posting informatorial messages that don't try to sell the reader. If you were selling beef on the web, for instance, post something to the newsgroup alt.agriculture.beef that sounds like, "I have some high-quality beef from North Dakota. If you're interested, here's my address:" and have it link to something of some important, relevant information.

The big thing is that we can't let people who don't know common courtesy destroy the world, especially the growing-up-real-fast online community. Practice courtesy on the web. Maybe it's like one person said, "The internet isn't a right. It's a right, a left, and a swift uppercut to the jaw." Yeah, that's what it said in this e-mail here.

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Karl Becker, the author of all these articles, uses New Tricks for his writings.

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