I have long been astounded by email. Not so much the fact that at any given point in your life you could jump up in the air and literally be bombarded straight in your head by billions of tiny bits of data flying willy-nilly through the air, but by the fact that after 30 years people still don’t really understand how to reply, how to behave, and more importantly – how to type – an email.
Am I talking about typos? No…we all make mistakes and taht hpapens qwite frequently around here. Thank the good Lord for that little red squiggly line telling me I’ve once again gone and done it. As an aside, I still don’t know half the time what the green squiggly line is telling me. It doesn’t know me. It doesn’t understand me. It should just look for typos with it’s red squiggly friend and be done with it.
Another thing that bothers me – and this isn’t what I’m talking about either – is why do people think it’s necessary to add their electronic signature to EVERY response? Initial email I understand. But then the other person replies, and you say ‘Thanks!’….and add your signature to THAT as well. I’ve seen signature lines that go on for 20/30 lines of text – including bible verses, quotes from famous people, and privacy messages. As I mentioned, that’s not what the topic of this article is either. We’ll address that one in the future.
What I’m going to talk about is the Email Circle of Life. That’s the email that accidentally goes out to 150,000 people when it was intended for just a handful. This recently happened to me at my place of employment – which incidentally boasts thousands of supposedly relatively competent IT professionals. At least that’s what our website confirms – we’re competent. What happened is that someone accidentally sent an email to a ‘global distribution list’ instead of just his personal distribution list. Oops. So instead of 15 people getting to see his innermost thoughts – he got a captive audience of 150,000 that acted like they have never seen a mistake before.
What the email said isn’t important. If it was important, I’d tell you….but it was boring as heck. What interested me were the responses to the email that came pouring in from all of these intelligent professionals. So I thought I’d detail the first 20 responses that came in. The words themselves are exactly what was said. The pictures of the people that said these are my imaginations of them as they typed these responses. To reiterate – all of these people ‘replied all’ thereby exacerbating the mistake 150,000 times each time they did. The first response to the mass mistake email?
And that started the flood:
Please note that I did not make up any of the replies – and that they all came in within 5 minutes of the original email being sent out. Our Help Desk noticed this fairly quickly and stopped any more replies from being replied – and actually went into EVERYONE’S email (all 150,000) and deleted all of these emails before most people even noticed.
But not me. I had dutifully copied every single one of them in the hopes of informing YOU – the reader – of what NOT to do the next time you get an email not intended for you. How about you just delete it and move on with your life? Huh?