Often when writing an email I find myself stumped by the empty subject line. The cursor taunts me, pulsing impatiently, challenging me to come up with some smooth way to perfectly sum up the contents of my message. “Hello” is such a copout! And it screams, “I don’t really know you.” Perhaps I put too much pressure on myself. Years of being a magazine editor have left me with a need to compose headings that are clever and catchy.
Most subject lines are way too utilitarian for my taste. For example, I recently received: “Subject: Your Priceline.com Itinerary to St Maarten.” What a buzz kill! I would have much preferred, “Subject: “You are SOOOO out of here (and for a pretty damn good price too!)”
How much faster would we all open emails with subjects like, “Holy crap!” “Surprise Plan!” or “Sex, Drugs & Diets.” (Okay, I stole that one from the cover of InTouch, but you took notice, right?)
Perhaps we should be able to buy subjects, the way we do greeting cards. I think people might be willing to spend money to purchase the perfect “I need a new job” subject line, or a venomous “your ex is a jerk” subject line. Same for a “You owe me a favor and I’m calling it in” subject line. And for a select group of celebrities, there should be a “the press is going public with my infidelities” subject line.
Thank goodness this is a blog post and all I needed was a title!
Antonia van der Meer is a magazine editor, book author and media consultant