“Adulthood is emailing ‘sorry for the delayed response!’ back and forth until one of you dies” – so the viral tweet goes.
If this sparks recognition – and a twinge of guilt – the second annual Email Debt Forgiveness Day on Saturday offers the chance to make amends.
PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, hosts of the well-established Reply All podcast about the internet, held the inaugural holiday on 30 April last year to encourage people to respond to messages they had been avoiding for far too long.
“If there’s an email response you’ve wanted to send but been too anxious to send, you can send it on 30 April, without any apologies or explanations for all the time that has lapsed.
“It doesn’t matter how long it’s been. Just include a link to this explainer … so that your recipient knows what’s going on.”
Vogt and Goldman encourage those who take part in Email Debt Forgiveness Day – either as the sender or recipient – to leave them a voice message saying what they have done.
With Reply All downloaded about 2m times a month, it could be enough to make it an established, worldwide release of anxiety.
“Together, we can all make our inboxes less stressful.”
Vogt told CBC Radio in May last year that he had about 1,000 unread emails in his inbox. “Well, I did before the holiday. Now I’m down to about 995.”
He said the response had been “mostly nice”.
“There’s a percentage of people in the world who hear about something like this and are just like, ‘What is wrong with you? Just sit down and do it, it’s not that hard.’
“Those people are not my people …
“Maybe you wait a couple of days, then you feel like you’ve got to write something really good to make up for the few days that have passed, but that feels hard, then you wait a couple of weeks … and before you know it you need to make up a national holiday excusing you.”