Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Acquaintance spam

I received three group e-mails in the past few days. Nothing big, just makes me think about the difference in people's level of... comfort? communicating with people. Based on my interactions with people and feedback I've gotten about my reactions to things, I'm a pretty conservative person (or totally clueless). Maybe everyone else would think these things are fine.

I'm not agitated about these e-mails, it's easy enough to hit "delete." I'm just curious about how technology has changed the way we behave. It allows people to reach out to others they don't know well. I suppose my question is more about how much one should know a person to include them in one's universe and how many levels of familiarity a person's universe has. That probably varies from person to person. I'm not trained enough in philosophy and psychology to explore this discussion with any academic insight.

Anyhow, here are the e-mails:

One from someone I haven't seen or talked to in five plus years whom I didn't know well in the first place. The e-mail was a narrative update of his life projects about dance. He now lives in Asia but lived here about five years ago. Amongst female friends who've met him, the opinion is generally shared that he was weird and creepy. He got into this cultish type of life philosophy. I think it was called "The Forum." He sent out huge life realizations by e-mail that were pages long to hundreds of people. My cousin had just moved here at the time and met him briefly at a party. She was freaked when she opened his life declaration. He liked to touch people in odd ways (not overtly inappropriate or anything). I don't pretend to understand his lifestyle, but I guess he's doing well. But really, I don't ever expect to see him again, so it's odd to suddenly hear from him.

The second was from KT and inquired whether there was anyone interested in forming a group for a 5K run next month. After I ran into him on Angel Island, I've never talked to him. Heck, I haven't spent an extended period of time with him since that last dinner in April 2006. The e-mail was sent to some 50 people, so it seems a bit random. Obviously, KT doesn't realize that I'm not interested in being friends. Another thing, I don't run.

Finally, my friend's girlfriend sent out an e-mail detailing her desire to change jobs, describing what types of qualifications she has, and indicating the type of jobs she is interested in. Of course, she is asking a favor for anyone to send her leads. I see her when there are parties, maybe less than once per month. I may talk to her for five minutes each event. I don't really know her. Sure, it's always potentially beneficial to network with people, but I guess I still don't get spamming dozens of people about your job search. Honestly, my work and her interests have little overlap other than maybe the overall department name we fall under. I'm terrible at networking, but I still think that personal notes directed to relevant people are more meaningful than a generic spam. I guess I'm old and out of touch.


mini said...

I think I agree with you on this one. I get mass emails sometimes, too, and they almost always seem a bit intrusive and presumptuous. I guess it's just another side effect of the ease of sending messages electronically.

Anna May Won't said...

i totally agree with you that personal emails are better. in fact, i hate getting mass emails and feel rather insulted by them, like if that person doesn't care enough to write to me personally, why should i care enough to read his/her email?

same with form letter christmas updates. who gives a shit what your family did all year?

chloe said...

Just so you know where my head is, when I first saw the title post I thought it read, "Acquaintance SPERM." Ha ha.

In my defense I will state that I was using my Treo and the screen is very small!

chloe said...

Oh yeah - and about the mass emails. I think they are sometimes appropriate, for example is you've left your job and your contact info has changed.

BUT I don't think they are appropriate when you're talking about something sensitive and personal. For example, my uncle and aunt sent a mass email out telling everyone my cousin has a brain tumor and will be having surgery in a few weeks. I was like, WTF? I definately think a phone call would have been more appropriate (not necessarily from my aunt and uncle but they could have called one person and started a phone tree-like effect.

Pandax said...

Chloe, thanks for the laugh!

I know these job search e-mails are necessary sometimes, but one example I took issue with was someone who BCC'ed people and had a sentence at the end of the e-mail saying to please keep this hush-hush as his employer did not know he was intending to leave. It just doesn't seem so "private" when you spam.