Reply All

“Reply All” is the bane of modern existence. My inbox overflows with duplicative replies, asking the same questions, offering up the same banalities, conclusions, and compliments again, and again, and yet again.

If Dante had known about e-mail, he surely would have named a level of hell Reply All. And it was onto this ring of hell that I ventured one sunny weekend morning – only to be reminded that Reply All is a form of narcissistic, societal torture.

I was sipping tea on that recent, fateful Saturday and scrolling through email on my way to consciousness when I saw … the enemy. I happened upon a group email. This is where it all begins; a singular thought, shared with multiple email addresses. The group email establishes the target, the bait in this one a particularly hard-to-resist trope: images of our children from a recent group event. Adorable, candid photos where our adolescent children don’t look at all demonic and intent on jumping up and down on our very last nerve. It’s a parental Trojan Horse – lured in. Every one of us opens the email.

In a “mood” for reasons that now escape me, and as always, medical science, I hit reply all. It was early. It was a weekend. My ego, high on caffeine, decided I could just begin and end the tide of group replies with one articulate missive. To everyone.

I will wrest the evil out of Reply All. Reply All will be my bitch.  And so, I wrote, confidently … naïvely,  insanely:  

“Thank you so much, Gifted-Photographer-Parent, for sharing your talents with our class. These are great photos that all of us will treasure. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Mine was the first comment. It was articulate, grateful, concise –a coup de grace. I  spoke for the entire group; I said all that needed to be conveyed.

My Reply All was the Alpha and the Omega.  Who would dare follow up my missive? RA, dear, you are my bitch now. And for a blissful moment, I was happy, convinced my prose had won the day and streamlined everyone’s inbox.

I was wrong. Ding.

They wouldn’t stop. Ding.

Ding. Ding. Ding.  

“Thank you, Amy, I couldn’t have said it better myself.”

So don’t try. You’re welcome. Stop typing. I’ve done it.

“We really appreciated your taking such care in documenting the journey.”

“Thanks for the beautiful memories.”

Does that read any better than my pithy, appreciative prose?

No, no it does not. (If your answer is ‘yes,’ just stop reading –you’re wrong. I’m right. You can go now.)

I am having a gratitude tantrum. I am an Emily Post nightmare. What is wrong with me?

Well, a lot, I know.

But specifically, what is wrong with wanting a wee bit of attention, of wanting to speak for a group? This is what is wrong with Reply All – what I intended as a singular expression of gratitude turned out to be an invitation for others to comment.

So, what is actually wrong with Reply All? Could it be me? Am I what’s wrong with Reply all?  Nah, I’m fine.  It’s those other parents – they should’ve just let me have the first and last reply. Fuck them. Fuck Reply All.

But thank you, Gifted-Photographer-Parent, the photos are great and like all of us on the email, I’m grateful to have them.

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