Monday, May 14, 2007

HTT, am I just grumpy?

Dear HTT,

Can you tell me if I have a valid complaint or if I'm just being grumpy and need to lighten up?

I have a certain circle of friends that, over the years, has grown quite large. There is a core group of us "regulars" and some others that might join us once in a blue moon. We get together about six times a year and have a great time. Since the people in this group are spread out all over the state, there are lots of logistics involved in planning our get-togethers and we do a lot of emailing to figure out when, where, whose bringing what, where do we meet, etc.

Recently, a guy in the group set up a listserv to facilitate the planning. It's set up so everyone gets all the emails. And therein lies the rub--we all get all the emails and there are gobs of it. Gobs. Beyond the actual planning of the event, there are side conversations, lots of teasing and joking, multiple responses to the teasing, harassment to those who can't make it ... and on and on. There are two or three people that are the main contributors to this and they enjoy the email banter. I can't stand it. The emails have become more of an event than the get-together and, for some reason, it really gets under my skin. I know it's easy to just press delete. But I don't want to see most of these emails at all. I just want to know where and when we're going and show up with whatever I need to bring.

So here's the thing--I never signed up for the listserv because I didn't want all the emails. My problem was solved. But yesterday I got added to the list by a friend who thought he was doing me a favor, like "You forgot to sign up so I did it for you." And immediately the flurry of emails filled my mailbox and I began to seethe. Should I reply to my friend that I deliberately didn't sign up and ask to be removed? Or just suck it up and press delete?


Dear e-nnoyed,

You might be grumpy, but not without cause!

Your friend breached email etiquette when he signed you up for the list without asking for your permission. I’m not saying it’s the most egregious cyber crime I’ve ever heard of, but you do have every right to be annoyed. Especially because you practiced restraint and good manners by staying out of the fray and off the list, rather than grousing to everyone about how many emails the listserv generates and how frequently people wander off topic.

Yes, if I were you, I’d ask to be removed. Sure, pressing the delete key doesn’t take that much energy, but sorting through tons of emails that you didn’t ask to receive will only irritate you more and more over time.

That being said, how will you learn about plans for the next get-together? Are group dynamics such that you’re expected to help arrange these activities, or are you under no pressure to participate in the planning? If you eventually feel the need to join the listserv in order to give your two cents about location and logistics, consider suggesting some sort of labels for email subject lines. Nothing too complicated, maybe just “Trip plans” and “Other.” At least that way, it’ll be easy to delete the casual banter and read only the emails that apply to main event.

(And besides, you want to save some on-line time to read HTT!)