Yes, some of us know it as EWI.
It stands for sending an email while under the influence.
In the past we just had to rely on self control and possibly an understanding email recipient with a sense of humor to let us off the hook when we got it wrong. But now, 37 years after email was launched, along comes that ten year old prodigy Google to the rescue.
Google has launched Gmail Goggles through its free email. It is, by default, only active late at night and during the weekend—the times supposedly when people will need it the most.
In addition to doing a few mathematic equations, Goggles gives you a few seconds to think about whether or not your ex truly will be happy to wake up to a semi-coherent e-mail professing undying love and regret at the split. If you cannot answer the equations you apparently aren't in a fit state to send an email. Given the state of our education system this little enhancement should reduce the number of emails substantially, whether people have been drinking or not.
A slightly lubricated email (and lets not forget the text messages) sent in the early hours of the morning after several hours at the pub can be forwarded along to anyone and everyone, resulting in instant humiliation and possibly worse.
However, lucky for us, Google is going to try and save us from ourselves.
Do you think that Google is really doing us a favour by introducing an 'artificial conscience' into the email equation?
I don't think so. Stuffing up and making a fool of yourself can be character building. Besides, we know the two most important character strengths are self control and resilience. How do we become resilient if someone is there to catch us every time we show poor impulse control?
Have you ever sent an email to the wrong person by mistake? I have. And of course there are those emails I may have sent which I didn't regard as a mistake but the recipient may have.
I've never needed alcohol to cause my brain to short circuit. Stupidity seems to work just fine. I learnt a lesson early in my career and now my email philosophy is this - I never put in writing what I wouldn't say politely to someones face.
Given I like my readers to feel better about themselves and, in order to raise the collective self esteem, I'm willing to share my mistakes with you on this particular issue (I know, it's magnanimous of me) .
I once made a horrendous mistake with an office email. I had youth on my side and that's the only reason I'm telling you this. Youth is an excuse for most stupid mistakes in life. I'm just glad that Google wasn't there to bail me out before I pressed the send button. It was a lesson that I needed to learn earlier than later.
You see, I may or may not have sent an email meant for a co-worker about my thoughts on a particular CEO and accidentally sent it via group email to the entire department. Let's just say that there were thousands of emails sent that day with my signature. It was a particularly colourful and robust email. Perhaps one of my best. The kind that you will often find penned by a know it all, stupid, immature youth with no regard for 'how the system works around here'.
When I realised what had happened, I seriously contemplated overcoming my fear of heights by jumping out of the 16th floor window. I was beside myself. In fact, forget about drinking before sending emails I could have quite happily drowned my sorrows after sending the email.
I had to act quickly. There was only one option open to me before I was located, captured and dragged away to the mail room where I might have had to languish for the rest of my days licking envelopes. I had to take control of my inevitable downfall from the lowest rung of the corporate ladder to the gutter.
I rang the CEO's personal assistant and made an urgent appointment to see him. I had to do some fast talking as to why a lowly staff member such as I needed to meet with him. I believe the words, 'national disaster', may have sprung from my lips (in a loud screeching wail).
All the way to his office I was humming ...and now, the end is near; and so I face the final curtain. My friend, Ill say it clear, Ill state my case, of which I'm certain.....
I felt like a child going to the Principal's office. As I walked in he stood up to his full 6ft 4 inches. He shook my hand in a steel like clasp and said, "so what can I do for you?" My first thought was to drop to my knees, grab onto his legs and beg his forgiveness (and perhaps give his shoes a spit and polish while I was there).
But no, it's not really my style.
I just cut to the chase. Staring at his bald spot seemed to calm my nerves. In a nutshell, I just told him that I had unfortunately sent out an email by mistake to everyone in the Department telling them I thought he sucked. I said that given this was bound to get back to him with a recommendation that I be sacked, I thought I had better come and tell him to his face. Woman to Man. He laughed. And laughed.
Strangely, he never forgot who I was. He always spoke to me whenever he saw me, he ended up playing a hilarious practical joke on me. Although I did suffer somewhat at the hands of my immediate supervisors who were less forgiving, I not only learnt to keep my emotions in check when sending emails but learnt that CEOs, even ones I thought sucked, had a sense of humour. His attitude also taught me how to cope when as a boss, I was on the receiving end of such reviews myself.
So Google, I wonder, where's it all going to end?
What will you give us for your 11th birthday, a USB breathalyser ?
Perhaps for your 12th birthday you could give us an anecdote for foot in mouth disease. Now that, I could do with.
Anyway, Happy 10th Birthday Google, you've come a long way in a short time. You clever thing, you.
Do you have any embarrassing email stories? Of course we know that they wouldn't be about you but about someone you know...we totally get that...