As best as I can tell, it was Frank Rizzo - former Philadelphia Mayor and Chief of Police - who coined the phrase "Never write a letter, never throw one away". If Mr. Rizzo were alive today, no doubt his inbox would be full and his sent email folder might not even exist. In this day and age, it is far too easy to send email in anger, haste, malice, greed and lust - at the wrong time, to the wrong person, with the wrong address, with the wrong tone, and with the wrong attachment. The modern day equivalent of a retraction really doesn’t exist, and once the mail goes out, the damage has been done. Affectionately, this is know as an email blunder. And just for posteroty’s sake, it was me who coined that phrase!
Anyone who has used email for a reasonable period of time has probably been on one or both sides of an email blunder. I have. With the volume of email sent today, I am certain it happens thousands of times daily. And, I am sure the perpetrators have suffered embarassment, humiliation, loss of stature, loss of job and perhaps even loss of life. Perhaps some of us have fared better than others, but the bottom line has been - real or imagined - a consequence.
And there may be a small few of us who have been lucky enough to weasle our way out of the mess, rise from the email ashes, and remain relatively unscathed. What have we learned? Well, at best we may have figured some clever way to unsay what was written, or at least to convince recipients that our words were misinterpreted. At worst it may end where I started this post.
Bottom line? No doubt we have all learned from these experiences. And we may have been lucky enough to learn from a bad experience of a relative, friend or colleague. Why not let the whole world learn, see how commonly these happen, and see how folks weathered the storm.
So, we are dedicating this web site to you, the senders and recipients, the victims and subjects. We hope you will share your stories and will allow me to publish these for the world to see and for all of us to learn.
Here is what we want. Submit your blunder. Write a summary, and let us know what went wrong. If you were lucky enough to survive, tell us how. If it did you in, tell us why. And, most importantly, tell us what you’d do differently next time. Bonus points if you can get the folks on the other side of the email to post their side of the story. The more the Amerrier!
- YOU MUST HAVE BEEN PRIMARILY INVOLVED AS SENDER, RECIPIENT OR HAVE ACCESS TO AND/OR SEEN THE EMAIL EXCHANGE
- NO REAL NAMES OR REAL EMAIL ADDRESSES - MAKE EM UP IF YOU HAVE TO
- KEEP IT CLEAN
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