It’s no secret that we got way too much email these days. And if you work in an office environment, odds are it’s worse. You’re probably on way too many distribution lists (or DL’s to us in the trade) and they jam up your in box, unless your IT team has given you unlimited inbox storage, which seems unlikely. Your IT team wields its power like members of the Sith Order leaving you feeling like Jar Jar Binks.
It’s funny how when it first gained widespread acceptance, email was supposed to make life and work easier. In fact, it’s done just the opposite. So much so, there are tons of articles on email and time management.
I’m sure you have run across this jackass, “Pshhhhhhhh, I take one week off and I come back to (insert ridiculous, but probably accurate number of) emails. I need a vacation from my vacation. Hahaha.”
This person is an idiot and probably hits “reply all”.
As a rule email is a time suck.
Hitting “reply all” unnecessarily is a larger time suck because, relevant or not, you have to f’ing look at it because what if, WHAT IF, there is something important in that reply (hint: there never is and there never will be). You don’t want to be that person that didn’t read the whole thread (more on that asshole another time).
Frankly, wanton use of “reply all” should be considered an act of white-collar terrorism and attended to accordingly.
So when you get an email that someone has taken the liberty to hit the “reply all” button, these are the only reasons possible.
- They are trying to publicly shame someone.
- They want to feel superior in their knowledge.
- They are an idiot.
- They made a mistake.
- They are a smart ass.
To those of you trying to shame someone, you’ve been warned. Internet and email justice comes fast and it comes hard. Oh, and you’re a dick.
To those of you wanting to feel superior, be very careful because if you so much as put a misplaced comma in your reply, someone will jump on you. And you will deserve it. Oh, and be damn sure you know the difference between “there” and “their”.
To those of you that are idiots. Stop being an idiot.
To those of you that made a mistake, well, don’t make it again.
To those of you that are a smart ass, keep it up.
Oh, and hitting “reply all” to say thank you? Don’t. Just don’t. I understand the urge. Resist the urge.
Now certainly, there are times when you must reply to everyone. Of course. The majority of the time (and really, I mean about 98% of the time), a simple reply to one person is fine.
Time is valuable and sifting through hordes of unnecessary emails is a fool’s errand.
There is only one proper response when someone hits “reply all” unnecessarily (or if you deem it unnecessary); you must also reply all and attach a picture of Nicholas Cage.
Fight fire with fire.
Suggested Nic Cage photo: