How to Reassess Something You've Been Doing Your Whole Adult Life

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Reader Comments (49)

I'm glad I'm not the only one who's bothered by this.

June 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmstrad

It's less nonsensical than those people who thoughtlessly sign off all their emails "Kindest regards". For example:


I cannot believe how poor that piece of work was. I can only think it was submitted three weeks late because you spent the extra time adding errors. You have destroyed this project and probably ruined my career. What the hell were you thinking of? Can you even think? Throw yourself off a cliff. At once. And take your dumb team with you. Never contact me EVER AGAIN.

Kindest regards,



I get loads like that.

June 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSimes

I've bought both the on-line and dead tree - now if you could make an audiobook version I'll buy that too.

Long live <good> authors!

June 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlaplander

"Darling fascist bullyboy:

Give me some more money, you bastard.

May the seed of your loin be fruitful in the belly of your woman,


June 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteruwg

Dear Mr. Meyer,

I've got plenty of lovin for your comic. Keep up the great work.

Faithfully yours,


June 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterClamdigger

Yeah. They'll never understand "boomshanka."

June 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterl

As far as I remember, in a German letter I'd have to call you "Lieber".

June 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Carnegie

I, for one, would love it if Scott would start every sentence directed towards Rick with "To Whom It May Concern"...

June 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTheKFV

This bugs me, too. It always feels weird and wrong to start letters and e-mails with "dear", it's no different from starting them "my dearest". But since when did English writing rules make sense?

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGDwarf

Dear Scott,

the standard approach is:
If the addressee's name is known and used,
"Dear Mr Smith" is paired with "yours sincerely",
whereas if the addressee's name is not known,
"Dear Sir or Madam" is paired with "yours faithfully".

I feel this cartoon may lead to a further lessening of already painfully low standards of letter-writing in the modern age, should no correction be made in order to combat the damage done by such misinformation.

Yours sincerely,

Ben S

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterben

I was chuckling throughout, but I lost it at the last line. Well played.

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAankhen

Dear Scott

All of this - cartoon - comments - everything - magic!

The very breath of life to a sad twonk like me who has noindependent existence and has to live via the misadventures of two of life's other losers in a comic strip.

I love you both and want to have your babies. (er - maybe not yours, Rick, unless you were born without the glasses).

Kindest regards

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaddy

<Shrug> I realised long ago that the linguistic currency has been watered down, shaken up and generally treated like a cheap cocktail. Total strangers are "dear", slight acquaintances are "hi [insert name]" (although hardly anybody's first name is Insert), friends are "hey nutjob" (or similar term of endearment), relatives are addressed simply by "Aunty Moopy" or whatever cutesy term invented by a toddler your family uses. I do make one deliberate protest: my actual spouse gets addressed "beloved" and I sign off "sincerely yours". [cue nauseated sound effects].

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAA

Hi Scott, it looks like the link for Rik's email is wrong in the comment.

Fixed, thank you! ~Missy

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJarrod

I'm not a native english speaker so I don't really have this particular problem. I start my business emails with "Hello X" or sometimes with our equivalent of "Dear X", which actually translates to "highly honoured X" and feels much more formal than "dear" does in english.

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Woelk

Dear Sirs and Madams,

There sure are a lot of instances of "yours faithfully" in these comments where there should be "yours sincerely".

Yours faithfully,


P.S. I will never be able to write "dear" again. Excellent comic!

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFDJaneway

Dear Ugh,

How could I possibly commit myself faithfully to someone I don't personally know, and why should I stop with only sincerity towards someone I DO know?

These rules are stupid. Thank you for pointing them out, Scott and commenters. I'm sure they are the entire reason that "letter-writing" has gone out of fashion, and we now all just send emails with neither the recipient's name in the body, nor a sign-off.

With great affection for you and all your kin,

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBI Fan

I'm a contractor on a military base. The one that drives me bananas is "Very Respectfully," which is the way most military folks sign off their emails. That in and of itself is not so bad, but then - because nothing can be communicated in the military without an acronym - it's shortened to V/r. Like,



Because I guess nothing says respect like, "I can't even be bothered to fully type out two words, so I will convey my deep regard for your position with two letters separated by a slash."

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Dear Meyer,

Obviously, you worry too much. Get a grip, Son...

Fraternally yours,
Mr. Obvious

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Obvious

dear uwg,
you've just made my morning :D
thank you.

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter54

Dear Charlie,

I couldn't agree with you more.

I think my disdain of "v/r" is only surpassed when it is used to close an exceptionally DISrespectful email.

It's like the military version of saying "bless your heart," which somehow is supposed to excuse any offensive crap you said right beforehand.

v/r, sincerely, faithfully yours, love always,


June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJen

To Whom it may concern,

As one who long ago abandoned all pretense of "proper" letter writing form, it is very disconcerting when I receive a letter or email with the salutation "Dear..." This is an address I use solely for my beloved wife, and I receive only from her.

Last week I received a hand written letter from a job applicant I had interviewed. He was a rather large fellow with bad tattoos, and some rather startling history revealed in our standard background check. His note began with "Dear... " scribed in very clean, if unpracticed, print. Written in pencil on 4x6 yellow note paper.

I do not know if the letter was a thank you note for the interview, or a death threat regarding my hiring decision. I was so thoroughly creeped-out by being addressed as Dear from this man, I could read no further.

Kindest regards,

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLT.Son

What are these "Let terse" or which you speak? Is it a primitive form of email? Are "Dear" and "Sincerely" archaic synonyms form "to" and "from?"

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames

As long as I've been writing letters to people, that has bothered me. But what else are we supposed to do? What do we do?! Tell me. TELL ME! *grabs other commentors by shoulders and shakes them violently*

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKevin

Dear letter writers,
the word "dear" used to mean "valued" or "expensive". It was the first meaning of the word that became the standard term of address in a formal letter: "Valued acquaintance, please give some attention to the subject I hereby mention. This is my opinion on it, or what should be done about it. Thank you for your attention, sincerely, Letter Writer."
Language is always changing, and "dear" came to mean "person I have great affection or love for", but formal letter-writing format still uses formal English, not vernacular.
Feel better?

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDee

A national panel should be convened forthwith, to discover a form of salutation at the beginning of a missive that is neither too familiar nor too brusque!

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArekExcelsior

@Charlie, I know what your mean. Furthermore, since many ex-military also work for other agencies, it's gotten as far as the USDA. Practically every agency I know does this now, or has several folks that do. Sadly, I'm one of them.

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMe

"Apparently I save all my lovin' for my business contacts!"
Funnier than the rest of this comic combined. Keep up the good work man!

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

My husband recently instructed me to STOP calling him 'dear'. Apparently, after fifteen years it had started getting on his nerves.

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

Dear John:

By the time you read this note, I'll be gone.
Life goes on, right or wrong.
The sun is dead and gone, dear John.


June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFakeScott

I suggest replacing "Dear" with the less awkward "Hey."

Hey Scott,

I enjoy your comics, but some guy named Meyer keeps claiming credit for your comics. You should be more proactive in defending your territory, since I think it's so incredible that you're able to update both Dilbert and Basic Instructions so regularly and you deserve to be recognized.

Yours Truly Forever,
Your Beloved LockeZ

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLockeZ

I work for one of the Components of the US Department of Defense, and for me (and most of my coworkers), email messages are never initiated with such a familiar term as "dear." If it is someone we know, but are not necessarily friends with, we just use their first name (such as when I send messages to my line manager, "Rebecca"). If it is someone with whom we are very well acquainted, we'll use a nickname (for example, I'll use the call sign, "Wood," for one of the aviators I know). If it is someone we don't know and can determine their gender by their name, we will use the appropriate honorific (Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Dr.) paired with their last name (it doesn't sound brusque, it just sounds formal). If it is someone we don't know and cannot determine their gender by their name, we will use their full name (pulling a generic example out of my rear center pocket, "Pat McGroin"). Oh, and my message closing is always the motto for the military branch from which I have retired. I do not use "sincerely," "kindest regards," "faithfully yours," etc. as they are nonsensical, rarely reflect what I am thinking/feeling at the time of writing, and are completely out of character for me. If I were to deviate from my service motto (a very rare event), it would be to use "very respectfully" (and as I said above, it probably isn't what I was thinking or feeling about the recipient at the time I was writing (re: Charlie's & Jen's comments above), but I recognize that they have some sort of power over my continued employment or the timeliness of my paycheck).

June 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter"Tom Slick"

My mom received a letter from one of the higher-ups where she worked, which I characterized as a "pack of lies". When challenged to point out any specific lie, I named two: "Dear" and "Sincerely".

June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Yo Dawg,

this comic was whack. Keep on pimping yo.

Yo' boy in the hood
D.J. Masterson

June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterD.J. Masterson

Dearest Dee's explanation, that it has to do with changing meanings of the word "dear", actually seems very plausible. Wouldn't be at all surprised if it turns out to be true, if I ever get around to checking on it. Thanks, valued Dee.

Apart from that, yes, I've always thought that it seemed odd, particularly in the form "Dear Sir". Doesn't necessarily stop me from doing it. There's often something appealing about keeping an odd but harmless tradition alive.

I've pretty much stopped doing it in business Emails, though. We're frequently in touch with a division of our company in Norway, and I wasn't sure that they'd understand. So now I start most of my Emails with the much more professional "Hey you".

June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

Dear Sirs and Madams,

It is actually very surprising that a lot of you don't end an email with either "Regards" or "All The Best". As for the 'Dear' conundrum, why not simply start with the persons name or 'To Whom it may concern'?

Another brilliant comic as usual, Scott! I don't think I've ever disliked a single one.

Sam Fox

June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSam Fox

@Robert Carnegie: That's actually reserved for personal letters. The formal/business way is "Sehr geehrter Frau/Herr X," or, if you don't know the name "Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,", so literally "Much honored Mrs/Mr X," or "Much honored Ladies and Gentlemen,".
The formal way to end a letter is "Mit freundlichen Grüßen," ("with friendly greetings"), which is so often shortened to just "MfG" that it's almost a joke. Unless of course you hate that person so much that you wouldn't even talk to them with your backside, much less greet them friendly. In that case, it's "Hochachtungsvoll,", literally "With high respect".

June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSome Random German

Dear Marco,

of course Dee is right about "dear" meaning "valued" or, actually, "expensive". I can't really understand the fuss about it being informal. Now, "my dear", that's something entirely different.

Dear Robert Carnegie,

"lieber", in German, IS informal, though. As pointed out by Michael Woelk, formal use would be "Sehr geehrter Herr ..." meaning "Very honoured Mr. ...".

June 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlerk

Dearest Readers and Scott,

We received a "template" at work for notifying our business partners of a problem in a very stern fashion. The template starts with "Dear..." and ends with "Best Regards,". The body, however, is very direct, nigh ominous, and could be interpreted as threatening.

But don't worry, the opening and closing are very cordial.

Wishing you all the best this beautiful world has to provide,

p.s. James for the win.

June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeardo

Dear Tom Slick,
Thank you for letting us know. We will get back to you about these forms and how they need to be filled out ASAP. In the meantime, sarcasm is best used lightly, not in longevity. Appreciation and laughter tends to fade after the third unindented paragraph, cause that's when we lose interest. Have you lost interest yet? I apologize. I hope these (sorry) this paragraph allows you to understand the English.

Sincerely Very Yours,


June 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjersn
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