Meet Rebump, The New Worst Thing About Email

Email is probably the bane of your life. There is too much of it, and there’s a special hate reserved for people who selfishly fill your inbox with balderdash.

Email is broken because it’s far easier to send someone a message that creates work for them than it is for them to  do that work. So you can quickly make the lives of people worse, at little cost to yourself.

Today, not responding to email is implicitly stating that your note was not important enough to warrant a response. That’s appropriate! Not everything everyone thinks or says merits a response. What we want in life is less, not more email, right?

Yet a startup called Rebump has found a way to make email even worse. How is that possible, you ask.? Well, Rebump is a service that automatically re-pings people — via email, of course — that haven’t answered your original message. It will keep doing so until you get a response.

Note that this implies that your initial email was both worth reading, and worth replying to. In reality most email fails both tests. So, Rebump is essentially a brilliantly passive aggressive way to force people into responding to you, or the flood of notes will not fucking stop.

In practice, this is how the company explains itself:

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 10.50.23 AM

Yes, it made me nauseous as well.

Actually I can see this working in practice: By the 7th follow up I would reply to your note. With a congenial “fuck off.” I guess if that is what you want, then great. I get that Rebump is trying to offer a service people will find useful, but if that utility comes from degrading everyone else’s life, it’s net negative for humanity.

If you are friends with someone and they don’t respond to your note, maybe they are busy. Maybe call them. Maybe let it slide, because you are not the most important thing in their life. Don’t use this. Don’t abuse their already overstuffed inbox. I don’t care if Rebump calls them “friendly follow-up messages.”

This is a friendly heads up that people will hate you if you Rebump.