The Email Circle of Life

Posted: March 24, 2014 in Tim Braun
Tags: , , ,

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?

Sleazy salesman pointing

I believe this was intended for another Bob Bitchell, since I’m just a Public Relations guy.

And that started the flood:

My name is Nancy Hawkins, but I don't think I'm the Nancy that was intended for this message, so please remove me.

My name is Nancy Hawkins, but I don’t think I’m the Nancy that was intended for this message, so please remove me.

Please remove me from this distribution list.

Please remove me from this distribution list.

Me too.

Me too.

And me.

And me.

Why am I on this mailing?

Why am I on this mailing?

I'm not even in SSS.  I don't know why I am on this distribution.

I’m not even in SSS. I don’t know why I am on this distribution.

Me either.

Me either.

Why did I get this email?

Why did I get this email?

Please remove me from the list.

Please remove me from the list.

I'd like to be removed as well.

I’d like to be removed as well.

Sorry think you have the wrong person.

Sorry think you have the wrong person.

Please remove me...

Please remove me…

Wrong guy...

Wrong guy…

This email does not apply to me.

This email does not apply to me.

I have no idea who this is and can you remove me from this email?

I have no idea who this is and can you remove me from this email?

Similarly I think I was added to the distribution list in error.

Similarly I think I was added to the distribution list in error.

OK we have all been added in error and the guy who sent the original email has already recognised his mistake!

OK we have all been added in error and the guy who sent the original email has already recognised his mistake!

"PLEASE TAKE ME OFF ALL THESE REDICULOUS REPLIES!"

“PLEASE TAKE ME OFF ALL THESE REDICULOUS REPLIES!”

"CAN YOU ALL STOP SELECTING 'REPLY ALL' ...... just reply to Patsy."

“CAN YOU ALL STOP SELECTING ‘REPLY ALL’ …… just reply to Patsy.”

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?

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Comments
  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    I hear you on this one. Nothing fills an inbox faster. Why click ‘reply all’ to tell someone to take you off the list? Drives me bonkers.

    Like

  2. Thanks for the chuckle this Monday morning:)

    Like

  3. Jennie Saia says:

    URRRGGGHHHHHH. THE WORST.

    I especially hate people who are unnecessarily and overly formal: “Similarly I think I was added to the distribution list in error.” <– Get a life. Your four-syllable words are not impressive. Just act like a human being!

    Like

  4. Christine says:

    Bravo!! I am so glad you got this out to the world. Now, if you could please go back to that distribution list and reply to all with a link to this blog, I’d be eternally grateful.

    Like

  5. Loved this! I was laughing out loud. I love how the error is compounded by people replying to “All”. Yes, just what everyone needs after receiving an e-mail sent by mistake- sincere, time-consuming follow-ups to the mistake. (Actually, it would be interesting to work out mathematically the number of responses if all recipients responded, and then got a follow up e-mail about “sorry it was just a mistake”, followed with the return “okay, thanks for letting me know”- all of this of course corresponded through the “Reply All” function)

    Like

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