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Dear Gmail: Consider Including My Free Will

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Wildly Exaggerated: Dear Gmail: Consider Including My Free Will

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dear Gmail: Consider Including My Free Will

Am I the only one who is completely bowled over by the sheer stupidity of Gmail's latest non-optional "improvement"? Perhaps you've seen it yourself: the helpful little "Consider including:" line that pops up under the To line in an outgoing email, suggesting other people you might want to include on the thread. It seems to make its suggestions based on mutual friends and/or people who are commonly included in group emails.

It's been live for a few weeks now, and while I can find some grumbling about it on them internets, there isn't nearly enough. We have to rise up, people! And we have to do it NOW. Because these aren't just names listed off to the side - they are clickable links that automatically add the [theoretically] interested party to the To line. In other words, you can type something akin to this:

To: Drew
From: Me
Subject: OH MY GOD HOW MUCH DO I HATE BILL?
Consider including: Bill
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My hatred for Bill burns with the heat of a thousand Tabasco vats. Sometimes looking at Bill's face literally makes me want to throw up. Seriously. If I could get a voodoo doll that allowed me to stab him directly in his soul, I would. Does he think he's funny? HE IS NOT FUNNY. I can't stand him. Let's pants him.

And if your mouse should somehow happen to graze that little "Consider including: Bill" link, you will shortly find yourself making a very unconvincing pitch to Bill about how this was all a joke. Ha ha. At first, people told me I was overreacting. But last week this actually happened to me. OK, it wasn't about Bill, who isn't a real person. And obviously it wasn't nearly as vitriolic as the above, because I am an angel and would never, ever say anything remotely like that. But I *do* sometimes say things I maybe don't necessarily want certain specific other people who are mentioned by name in the body of the email to read. It's not even always something mean! I could just as easily be saying "I cry myself to sleep every night because I love Bill so much and he doesn't even know I'm alive." But you know what? I still wouldn't want Bill to read it! (SPOILER ALERT: I caught/deleted the unintended recipient before clicking "Send". NO THANKS TO GMAIL.)

I may be a bit oversensitive about this issue, owing to a problem I had 2 years ago when a text that was meant for a close girlfriend accidentally got sent to the guy who had *just* asked me out, and who was, in fact, the subject of said text. This led to the most awkward after-midnight phone call I have ever made. Have you ever had to beg someone not to read the text you just sent them? Especially when it's someone who thinks you might be flirting when in fact you are COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY DEAD SERIOUS? It isn't fun, I can tell you. I still have flashbacks to that phone call, as well as to the subsequent phone call I placed to my best friend, at which point her husband saw my number on the caller ID, picked up the phone, and said, "You're an idiot". Thinking about it, everyone I call probably should answer that way all the time. Anyway, my point is: I've had more than enough mis-sent electronic communications already, thanks. I don't need any more.

I figure the Google people are subjecting me to this for one of two reasons: 1) Gmail is trying to encourage openness and honesty in all human relationships or 2) Gmail truly believes I am SO stupid that I genuinely don't know who all needs to be included in a given email. (Yes, I just said "who all". Welcome to the South.)

If reason #1 reflects their thought process, then I guess their goal is commendable. But they should bear in mind that for every cheating spouse or mean-spirited gossip that gets outted by their little Honesty Initiative, they are probably also ruining a surprise party somewhere. Is this a price we, as a society, are willing to pay? I submit that it is not. I heart surprise parties. NOT IN MY NAME!

If reason #2 reflects their thought process, then I have a knuckle sandwich with their name on it. Ever since this started happening 2 months ago, there has not been a single instance - not one - where I finished writing an email, scrolled up to proofread/click "Send", and said, "Oh crap! You're absolutely right, Gmail! I've just written a soul-baring missive to a close personal friend, and I almost forgot to include these three randomly chosen people we went to elementary school with! Sure, little Jimmy Penderton used to eat paste, but I bet he has some valuable insights about the next step in my spiritual journey. Thank Hera you reminded me to include him!"

(I'm making my "not amused" face here.)

Look, Gmail: If I need to send an email to a dozen people, it is very easy for me to pull up my contact list and tick boxes next to all of their names. You've done a great job with that, and I appreciate it. But 99.9% of the emails I write are only intended for ONE person's eyes, and including anyone else would be a patently bad idea. How about you just assume that I have considered including literally everyone else I've ever emailed...and I've decided against it.

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3 Comments:

At June 30, 2011 at 9:22 AM , Anonymous Thomas said...

Two things.

First, have you tried not hiding your contempt or your lust for people? I find that it makes life simpler. Not easier, no, and it certainly doesn't make me more popular, but it does simplify things.

Second, you referenced Hera in this blog and Thor on the attendant FB post that led to it. You used to be an eight on the in-your-face Catholic scale. Is this pure comedy or has your life taken a rather substantial turnabout in the last thirteen years or so?

 
At June 30, 2011 at 9:50 AM , Blogger Kimberly said...

1. I consider "not emailing them directly to tell them about it" to be my way of hiding my contempt/lust for others. I reserve the right to continue venting to my friends about it because, well, I enjoy being a fallable, vulnerable human being with feelings. And sharing those feelings with others is a quick and easy way to form social bonds, which I quite like.

2. Hera and Thor were thrown in for a combination of comic effect and avoidance of any and all discussion of religion, which is why I won't be detailing any of my personal beliefs here. But I will say this: I have never, ever, in my entire life, even for one fleeting moment, been the tiniest little bit Catholic. Ever. I think you have me confused with someone else.

 
At July 4, 2011 at 10:44 PM , Blogger Josh said...

I just had to share that I knew that comment was from Tom before I looked back at "Thomas says"

As far as the Catholic comment goes, I find it much more offensive to call someone 8 on the in-your-face catholic scale, rather than the Catholic scale.

Also, I talked to my contact at Google and he said they added the feature for reason #1 and #2.

 

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