How Do We Communicate in 2009?

An interesting conundrum:

You receive a piece of e-mail. It’s from someone you’ve never heard of. It’s blatant marketing/sales stuff. No pretence about anything else, no content that you (with any luck) find at least a little bit useful in the hopes that you are encouraged to stay in touch. Just a sales pitch. No opt-out link on the e-mail, even.

And then you notice that your e-mail address is in the “TO:” line, along with that of several dozen, or hundred, or thousand others. You can see them all. They can all see you.

You “respond to all”. You express your opinion about getting the email in this way. The fact that it was spam? No big deal. The fact that your e-mail address has been revealed to all those other people? Sloppy, unprofessional, and opening you up to inclusion on that many more lists.

A couple of people respond back, negatively. You’re accused of being as bad as the person who sent out the original letter. It’s only a couple, so you presume those were his real-world friends trying to make an example of you for having the moxy to call him out publicly.

You then do exactly what you were thinking was going to happen to you: you include your new peers on your own mailing list, and you send notes like this one.

And you hear from the same couple of people. They are angry and indignant. They demand you remove them from your mailing list. They could have removed themselves by using the “unsubscribe link” clearly visible in the email. You don’t lecture them, and you don’t ignore their wishes; you remove them.

The Big Question:


I’m interested in your answer, and if you have an opinion I hope you’ll share it with me.

The business world has changed. Heck, the entire world has changed. Find me a parent of a child between the ages of 11 and 19 and I guarantee they’ll tell you how they really, really, really just don’t understand this new world with texting instead of talking, multiple simultaneous IM sessions, and “C U L8R”s .

So is being opportunistic by making new contacts the way I described above cool? Or is it crossing a line. Or lines?

You may hit “delete” now.

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