In Response To: Reply to All

I’d like to personally meet the man or woman who invented the reply-to-all feature. It would be an honor to shake his (or her) hand so I can wrap my hand around, grab with a firm grip, and squeeze all the fingers, one by one, until they break with a satisfying crunch.Whoever thought that this anarchistic feature was a good idea should be punished adequately.

Any type of group messaging system irritates me to no end. It’s nice to be included, and we all have a need to belong, but never have I ever felt that I need to belong to an email chain. You know the kind I am talking about: it originated from somebody at your teaching site, like your demanding principal or complicit administrative assistant, that is addressed to all staff. You also know that one staff member who can’t help but reply to every single email ever written by anybody on the face of the earth that he or she receives because it is a compulsion. Even more terrifying is the incessant need to reply to every single person who received the original email. And you’re included.

No, I don’t care that you can’t come to a staff meeting because you have an optometrist appointment. I’m sorry that your child threw up on you this morning and that you will be unable to be present something (irrelevant) to our department meeting. Yes, it is a travesty that you can’t find your keys and you will be five minutes late, but when you do come in, you will announce something like: “They were in my purse all along. Isn’t that silly?”

Yes. Yes it is.

Please do not take this opportunity to sell your daughter’s Girl Scout cookies because we were just reminded of a fire drill. Please feel free not to use the staff directory as a classified ad to unload that old sofa, mini fridge, or broken cabinet that sits in the back of your classroom.

Maybe that was just a little bit harsh. But, I do wonder who actually pays attention when they hit the reply to all.

Let’s do a thought experiment: if the computer system, every time someone clicked “reply to all” generated prompts, what would happend. Person clicks “reply to all.” Computer prompts: Are you sure? Click YES or No. No. No is the right answer. If the person still clicks yes because, you know, they are seriously deluded into thinking that all, if not, at least half, of the recipients need to know this information, a second prompt will arise. Are you REALLY sure? No. Please click NO. Unfortunately, there is that guy, the one who insists on the relevance of replaying to everyone. It really is critical. The third and final prompt arises: Are you really, REALLY sure? [Flashes in red. Skulls and crossbones. Blaring horns.] Should that lovely human still persist in proliferating toxic communication and click “YES,” the computer self-destructs.

People share things that they clearly should not be sharing with an entire recipient list. Years ago, I was copied on an email that went out to all fifth-grade teachers in my very large school district. I cannot remember what the original email was for, but I’m pretty sure I just deleted it. My rebellious streak is strong. Anything with that many recipients probably wasn’t intended for only me, and if it’s that important, someone will track me down in person.

Flash forward to 11 years later, I receive an unwelcome if not surprising email from somebody trying to sell their couch. To the entire fifth-grade teacher population. I now teach middle school, and can’t believe he or she thought it was a great idea to use a massive list-serv that came from our very large district over a decade earlier. Needless to say, teachers districtwide climbed aboard their beautifully-adorned soapboxes, empowered to be communication crusaders for Internet justice. They voiced their frustrations at the sheer inappropriateness of such a self-serving advertisement, chastising the sender. The majority noted how unprofessional it was to use reply to all. The irony? Every single person told the sender not to reply to all by replying to all.

May their computers not-so-spontaneously combust.

This went around and around for two, maybe three, weeks With my deleted box overflowing with copious responses.

It’s no different within sites. This week’s school bulletin, which is emailed out the Friday prior to the week it “bulletins,” received more than the normal reply to alls. I

t all started with a question from one teacher, the one teacher who usually has questions that I’ve already been answered but since she doesn’t pay attention, her question seems completely valid. This is the same teacher who, at staff meeting, only has “me” questions, during roundtable, the unspoken and agreed upon period where teachers have an unspoken agreement to never, under any circumstance, say anything that jeopardizes leaving the torture that is a compulsory staff meeting. This same teacher, In order to get a question answered, naturally, had to reply at all. As the answers to the questions came in, everyone just has to reply to all. In fact, several people reply to all with the same answer as the previous person. The entire time, I can’t help but be very upset as the important emails in my inbox get buried beneath this avalanche add in significant questions and responses. The best part? The answer to her question could’ve been found in the bulletin itself had she only looked.

Thank goodness for the 12 staff members who came to her rescue. 15 emails later, and numerous thank yous and assorted you’re welcomes, the great reply to all deluge of March 2019 had subsided, yet none of their computers exploded in a suicidal protest to reply to all.

I beg. I implore. Please do NOT REPLY TO ALL. Should you find yourself tempted by the potential to spread your digital, communicative seed, reflect upon that imaginary warning pop-up asking you if you’re sure. If you’re not, then don’t reply to all. If you are, trust me, don’t reply to all. Envision the motherboard and internal components of your favorite device strewn helter-skelter across your living room rug.

[Please reply only to me when commenting on this post. NOTE: No staff colleague or computer was harmed in the creation of this blog post.}

4 thoughts on “In Response To: Reply to All

  1. Oh my goodness! I am still laughing at this! I have five names bouncing in my head and I don’t care about their dental appointment, lost glasses, forgotten lunch OR flat tire! I don’t care about their excuse! I’m so glad someone else put such a perfect voice to this national crisis of “reply all”!!


  2. OMG!!! I love the snark in this piece. I wish there were a virtual “I agree/I’m with you” hand sign I could send you – you alone! Do people not know they can adjust their setting so it defaults to REPLY SENDER? How to do that might be the most important PD workshop ever.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.