Hey, I’m not a complete stick in the mud. Really I’m not. I’m glad that Barry in accounts sent that funny YouTube video to everyone in the office. It broke up my working day and elicited a chuckle. I didn’t need it, but I welcomed it. I mean the ping my computer makes when a new email message arrives invariably distracts me from my work, but when the reward for my clicking on Microsoft Outlook is a film of a fat kid dancing, I let it slide. You know what? It was worth it. Even though I have seen it before. Many times before.
You know what isn’t worth it? The interruption caused by the person who has replied-all to the original email with a smiley face. Or the person who wishes the whole office to know that she thought it was hilarious. Or indeed any of the inane responses that could have quite easily stayed within the consciousness of the senders instead of being transcribed and sent across the entire network to waste my goddamn time!
I now have 16 new e-mails in my inbox, each one dragging me away from my highly focussed concentration, and each one amounting to little more than a throwaway response. If you can construct a witty retort that makes a good portion of the office laugh, smile or at least nod in appreciation, then by all means share it. But I don’t want to be distracted from my work every 2 minutes by an email that says “ha ha!”
And if someone’s done something praise-worthy – if a pitch has been won or a promotion has been earned or a piece of good work has been singled out – then by all means an e-mail sent to the workforce outlining the good news is arguably justified. You know what isn’t? A reply to the whole fucking company with your own personalised congratulations. Just send it to the relevant party! I’m sure Margaret would love to know that you think her promotion is well earned, but I fucking don’t – I don’t even know who Margaret is!! It’s just posturing, otherwise. Look at me, congratulating the little person!! Or sucking up to my superior!!
You know, I was quite happy being completely oblivious to your existence. These interruptions not only make me aware of you in a completely unflattering light, but also make me want to despise you despite never having met you. Hang on, let me send an e-mail to the whole company telling everyone that…