Only monsters reply all

Lavender Baj, writing about the “shopping cart” theory, for Pedestrian:

Well as the theory goes, whether or not you return the shopping trolley determines what kind of person you are. Why? Well because there’s no real consequences to NOT returning the trolley, nobody really cares if you do or don’t and there’s no reward for doing the right thing. But that’s just the thing, we all know that putting back the trolley IS the right thing.

“A person who is unable to do this is no better than an animal, an absolute savage who can only be made to do what is right by threatening them with a law and the force that stands behind it” the post reads.

Related theory: the reply-all response.

I teach at an Australian university. This morning, I woke up to a nightmare in my email inbox. Someone (who later claimed they were “hacked”) sent a link to an email list. It has 4,600 people on it. How many people do you think hit “reply all” to say they want to be unsubscribed from this list? Too many. How many people do think then hit reply all to say “stop using reply all” with a few sanctimonious exclamation points. Again, too many.

Pressing “reply all” is the easy way out. In some situations, it’s good office politics. “Visibility” and all that. Defaulting to it requires no thought. And, in situations like this, it means you don’t need to do the work required to figure out who manages the list. (Someone was ID’d as the list manager, by the way. That person then had to hit reply all to tell everyone that they, in fact, don’t manage the list.)

And these people are moulding the minds of young Australians.

Reply all is the communications version of the shopping cart. Not pressing reply all requires thought, consideration, and a desire to not mindlessly gunk up 4,599 other inboxes. Pressing reply all is easy. It signals your wanton indifference to the lives of others. It’s an email hand grenade into the trenches of my already riddled attention span.

Put the shopping cart away. Don’t reply all unless you actually have to. Be a decent human being.