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What is an E-Nag?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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E-nag is one of the unusual terms that have arisen with the proliferation of different types of electronic communications, particularly email. The word is short for the terms electronic, and the simple word nag. Nag can be a noun or a verb and can mean either a person who bothers others with trivial complaints, or to bother or pester others. The terms e-nagger and e-nagging may also be used.

Essentially, to e-nag someone is to send them multiple emails (or texts) without waiting for an adequate response on your first communication. The e-nagger may simply be too impatient to wait for a response, and continues to fill up another person’s mailbox with way too many requests for a reply, or just continued communication that is not that relevant. It’s hard to define what constitutes a reasonable amount of time to wait for someone to reply to a communication. Some people are connected constantly to the Internet, while others only check their email every few days. Certainly, giving a person at least a day to reply to your initial email would probably keep you from being considered an e-nag.

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Netiquette recommends you do avoid the urge to e-nag, since it can be bothersome to others. On the other hand, some people turn into unintentional e-naggers because others are violating netiquette and not replying to their emails or texts. When possible, people receiving letters or texts that require a response should try their best to respond promptly. This doesn’t mean you have to drop everything and reply immediately, but answering questions or queries within a day or two of receiving them is the polite thing to do.

One tendency in this particular term is somewhat disturbing. The practice of nagging is often associated with women, especially women who are girlfriends or wives. There may be a hint of misogyny when a teenage girl or woman is described as an e-nag or e-nagger. It is true that some teenage girls in new relationships may send too many texts or emails to boyfriends, but some teenage boys behave exactly the same. The practice shouldn’t be considered gender-limited.

Perhaps the best way to deal with someone who may be communicating too much is to have a physical conversation with him or her. If they are at a distance, pick up the phone and at least chat with them. You can let a fledgling e-nag know that you have limited time, and would love to answer all their texts or emails but just can’t. Agree upon a reasonable amount of communiqués per week.

If you feel you may be e-nagging and want to stop, take a minute to consider the time restraints of the person you’re contacting. Do give people the benefit of the doubt, and give them an opportunity to reply before sending them anything else. If you haven’t heard from a person in a few days (or possibly a week or two) try again, or alternately, telephone the person you’re trying to reach.

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