Tuesday, May 8, 2007


When I push the "publish" button on this post, I realize that what I say will be published in seconds, and it will have a potential audience of millions.

The key word in the past sentence is, of course, "potential." There's a possibility, however remote, that what I write will arise out of the practically infinite cacophony of Internet discourse to be widely read. I realize this. The content of what I write, then, would characterize me in the snap judgments of casual readers. If this post is funny, I am a funny person. If it is angry, I am an angry person. If it is embarrassing, I am a foolish person.

So, I will try to choose my words carefully.

What I haven't realized - and what you, likely, haven't realized - is that I've pushed an achingly similar button dozens of times already today. That button is "send." By pushing it I saved a copy of a post, of sorts, to my own computer and transmitted it, in a similar amount of seconds, to another computer. Along the way, it may be saved on any number of servers and archives. Most, if not all of the posts I sent today were intended for, and read by, one recipient. Assuming, of course, that I directed the post to the appropriate parties. The scary part is that the difference between sending a message to one intended recipient as opposed to many, many other unintended recipients is often measured in millimeters of graphical user interface real estate. The scarier part, however, is that even if I did send my post to the correct recipient, I no longer have control over its dissemination.

It almost makes you want to go back to buying stamps.

This blog is, as you may have guessed, about those instances in which the beauty of e-mail has turned cruel; in which messages clearly intended to be private have become all too public. More than just a repository for the shame and embarrassment of ordinary people who could just as soon be you or me, this blog will attempt to determine why such posts capture our attention; how they occurs, what they say about the people who wrote them, and about the people who sent them along.

This blog isn't intended to defame, embarrass or hurt anyone. Real names won't be used unless they've been disseminated through the mass media, the cat being far out of the bag and down the proverbial street. Comments and submissions are encouraged and accepted at repliedtoall@gmail.com.

It's doubtful this blog will solve any great mysteries about the human condition. But the e-mails are fun to read, and fun to think about. And maybe that's the point.

There. In a moment, I'll press "send," and with any luck, this will catch on and I'll be the latest firefly blink everyman Internet celebrity star. But maybe, you're more famous than I'll ever be, already. What have you sent today?

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