Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Importance: Low!

Most users of Microsoft Outlook (i.e. anyone who is or works in an office with people age 24 and up) have probably noted widespread abuse of the red exclamation point (!) to indicate a "high priority" matter. Readers of my prior blog post titled "Emergency!" will recall its plea for more judicious use of the word "emergency," which really should apply only to true life-and-death situations (e.g. a burning building with children and animals trapped inside, or a shortage of alcohol or coffee at home).

Consider this post a call to action for a major curtailment of the ! (and the "!" on the keyboard, in general). Actually, some people should have both the red Outlook "!" and the keyboard "!" disabled by I.T. These email users apparently suffer under the delusion that the following situations require urgent action: last day of a pledge drive that has been ongoing for ten weeks; moldy Tupperware in office fridge; circulating sign-up sheet for festive office potluck; construction project in the parking structure; and/or one of six elevators malfunctioning for half an hour.

The icon that does not get used nearly often enough, but should, is the "importance: low" blue arrow. But of course, no one--truly no one--uses this icon, as doing so all but guarantees that the recipient will ignore the sender's message forever, thereby defeating the purpose of sending it at all. 

And that, my friends, is the "point," so to speak. People prone to overuse of "!"--to the extent they are self aware enough to know thineselves--should stare long and hard at the blue arrow every time they think about using the red exclamation point. Because maybe--just maybe--the message not only can do without the red exclamation point, but it can do without existing at all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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