Tuesday, February 10


I can't see shhhhhh.... An interesting debate comes up every now and again... a controversial debate that I unwittingly spark when I send out innocent little emails to a random group of people.

Today, needed to send an all-important missives to my colleagues about an upcoming event that I wanted to inform some people about. It was a message that I wanted to be short & sweet, and didn't require action other than showing up. Responding was optional.

So, I used BCC. The Blind Carbon Copy.

If you don't know what it is, it's the option in an email where instead of typing an address in the TO field... or the CC field... you type it in the BCC field.... and no name(s) show up in the received email.

Useful tool for listservs, solicitations, and (in my case) for discouraging rampant flooding of REPLY-ALL responses.

Because I have been on the receiving end of Reply-All. Both intended replies meant for the entire world to see, and accidental replies to all. Those second kind can be fun. And by fun, I mean both laugh-out-loud funny, and also painfully scathing and instantly regretted.

I learned my lesson long ago when I sent out some pithy joke that had a political leaning, to which my dad -- a man so conservative, he makes Rush Limbaugh look like a feminazi --thought it would be great to reply-all and share his markedly right-wing opinions for all the world to see.

Well, he pissed off my co-worker.

Apparently a cyber-pissing match further ensued outside the realms of the reply-all. It was a digital version of saying, "Wanna take this outside?" And I guess they did, because I didn't even know it was going on, until one day my dad said to me, "That guy you work with? He's a jerkoff."


From that day on, I made a vow to never reply-all unless I personally knew every recipient, and unless what I had to say was relevant to all involved. I also take the time to delete individual names off the reply-all if I don't know the person.

[I also re-read through emails I'm forwarding to other people. Nothing worse than unintentionally passing on comments that were meant for your eyes only. A lot of legendary hate sprees have been borne from me seeing comments about me when I scrolled further down in the email.]

Thus, I make active use of the BCC option. It prevents the accidental reply-all by others.

It also has enabled me to diplomatically handle group invitations when there's someone I don't really want to involve. See, girls can be prone to friend-envy. When I send an email forward to the "ten of your favorite girlfriends who need a good laugh today", I always use BCC.

Because I have actually received replies from my less mature girlfriends with comments like, "Yeah, I saw you also sent that to Missy. I didn't know you were still friends with that bitch."

(Fortunately for Missy, that was not a reply-all mishap.)

I also have lots of friends in a variety of circles. Family. Friends. College friends. High school friends. Drinking buddies. Former co-worker friends. Current co-worker friends. Co-workers, non-friends. Strictly-business friends. "Friends". Never the twain should any of them meet! Too many worlds colliding -- it'd would NOT be a smooth mix if the potty-mouth Current Co-worker friends have something to say that might be TMI for the Drunking Buddies. Family and Co-workers non-friends, also not a very good mix. (See story above) I have also used reply-all to "pretend" I have issued invitations to "everyone"... it's never as obvious to see who I omitted when you can't see anyone.

Reply-all has also been a clever device when you are trying to seem all chill, low-key, and casual to a one person that you are emailing. You send out that casual invite for drinks to a group of friends.... but in the BCC you only type one name. That person doesn't have to know they're your intended target!!!!! Or, sending out a serious email to your colleagues about a particular complaint? Except in the BCC you only have type that one offending loser's name!!! They'll never know!

Aaah.... the many merits of the BCC. I love you, BCC. If I could marry you and all your stealth ways, I would. Mrs. Toni Ryan BCC.

Which brings me to today.

From: Toni Ryan
Sent: Tue, February 10, 2009 2:26 PM

Subject: happy hour? tomorrow? 5:30p?

That's where I'll be! ... As will a combination of random others. Intrigued? Then, come by! I'll buy your first drink!

p.s. I didn't send this invite to the whole planet because I am either a) selective, b) lazy, c) both. Please keep that in mind before forwarding.

And then I got this reply:

From: Frank Coworker
Sent: Tue 2/10/2009 2:33 PM
To: Toni Ryan

Subject: RE: happy hour? tomorrow? 5:30p?

Well, if you weren’t gaaaaaaay and BBC-ing people, I wouldn’t have to worry about forwarding, because I’d know exactly who it went to already….

LOL! Hahaha that's a really good point.

As usual, I was only thinking of avoiding the usual comment I get back about, "You didn't invite me to happy hour." Hey, I don't own happy hour. It's an institution. I just said that I was gonna be at happy hour with other people, and if you happen to show up, great. I don't want to be responsible for whether or not a person feels "invited" or not. Too much pressure.

Thus the BCC.

For curiosity's sake, I posted this question on Facebook: "Which is worse, BCC or Reply-All?" and have already elicited a number of fiery, thoughtful responses.

All just opinions. But I'm still going to BCC to my heart's content.


Maybe... just maybe. Maybe all of this was just an elaborate ruse that I concocted?

From: Toni Ryan
Sent: Tue, February 10, 2009 2:26 PM

BCC: Frank Coworker

Subject: happy hour? tomorrow? 5:30p?

I guess he'll never know....

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