The other day, my friend and I were talking about the strange, dare I say extremely white phenomenon of sending multi-thousand-word updates about your life/family/travels/children via email. If you’ve been on the receiving end of one of these screeds, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky, because no one enjoys them. And no matter what the email-writer in question is talking about specifically, the content of these things is always the same. Essentially they can be summarized as the following:
Person A is embarking on some sort of life journey, whether that be traveling, going off to school, having children, or watching said children do any of the above. And because they believe that their life is interesting enough to be foisted upon everyone’s inboxes in great detail, their method of conveying this life-changing information is chain email with everyone they’ve ever met cc’d. (This also usually means that the extended family members who are actually excited to read about this stuff will then respond to everyone, keeping this chain going for several weeks longer than anyone would want it to.
These emails are usually full of photos and edging towards the 2,500-word mark, and contain things like “We’re so excited that Catie is off to Stanford this year for the Prestigious Internship No One Cares About,” or “Discovering Singapore has been so amazing – there are so many wonderfully authentic restaurants, and here are photos from 40 of our favorites.” Essentially, the author believes that these adventures will be just as interesting to read about as they were to live, and – most importantly – they provide a perfect opportunity to humblebrag while appearing as though you’re just trying to keep loved ones informed, which is the right thing to do. Being able to announce to the entire extended family that little Peter or Sarah has gotten into their top-choice school under the guise of being considerate is catnip to these people.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, because it’s the absolute logical conclusion to come to: Why don’t these people just get a blog? And that’s a good question, I have no idea. My boyfriend and several of his friend received MULTIPLE emails of this nature from different friends on a regular basis, as several of them were in the world travel/popping out kids phase of their lives and wanted to detail every bit of it to every person they ever went to college with. I suggested to him once that I could show them how to make blogs, as they must clearly not be aware of such an idea (and unlike our grandparents who are also fond of these emails, they are more than capable of learning). “No, no,” he told me, “The fact that these emails show up automatically in your inbox is the point.”
And I think there is an element to being held hostage in all of this, because if you receive one of these Grandiose Life Update emails and don’t respond to them, you become the asshole. But why are these people not considered the asshole for cluttering 30 people’s inboxes with their mundane goings-on, unsolicited? That’s the real question here, and one I will not rest until I have answered.
As someone who writes for a living, often about her own life, I totally get the impulse to share (and overshare). But the key here is putting your meandering thoughts in a place where people actually have to seek it out, and have the pleasure of reading something that they actively chose to go find. You know, like a blog. Simply containing all your thoughts about your children’s college prospects and/or how much you love xiao long bao in a blog means that your audience will now be voluntary, instead of captive. Which is so much better, really.
But I think the point here is keeping your audience captive, because you know, deep down, that no one cares about your super-long life update emails. So in case there was any question, let’s clear it up: No one cares. No one cares about these emails. If it can’t all fit into a Christmas card, you can call the person. And if the person isn’t worth actually calling individually to update them, then they probably don’t need to know.
So cut it out with the emails.
Love, all the people who feel like assholes for never reading them.