Column: Google Mail Goggles offers a welcome respite from self-loathing


(Photo by codepo8/Flickr)

Ever drunk-dialed, drunk-texted or drunk-e-mailed someone and then blamed technology for letting you be so stupid? We all have. Technology is a drunken-escapade enabler.
 
A few weeks ago I read a column by ESPN Fantasy Sports Guru/Connecticut’s Most Eligible Bachelor Matthew Berry in which he shared the following exchange that took place with a female friend. Berry and the unnamed woman were trading crazy dating stories. Their conversation contains what might be the strangest words ever written by a hammered woman at 4 a.m.

Woman: Well, we hadn’t talked in a week or so. And then I drunk-texted him.

Berry: Everyone’s done that. He probably was happy to get it.

Woman: It was at 4 a.m.

Berry: So he was asleep. No worries.

Woman: I had been out at a party and came home. And then I couldn’t fall asleep. And then I just got loopy.

Berry: O-kaaay. Maybe not the best frame of mind to start texting on, but go on.

Woman: So I woke up at 4 a.m. and couldn’t go back to bed. So I started watching TV and there was a documentary on The History Channel. And I was still buzzed. So I texted him. And he didn’t respond.

Berry: I told you. He was asleep. Don’t worry about it.

Woman: I texted “Lincoln freed the slaves.”

Berry: Yeah, you’re not hearing from him again.

Woman: It was an emotional documentary! It was very exciting!

Berry: I have no doubt. Just like I have no doubt you’re never hearing from him again.

Woman: But it’s cute, right? Kind of funny?

Berry: No. It’s crazy. Guy hasn’t heard from you in a week and then gets a text at 4 a.m. that says “Lincoln freed the slaves?” He thinks you’re insane. And, I love you, but he’s right.

I hope this catches on. When you feel the urge to give someone a piece of your mind at 4 a.m., write “Lincoln freed the slaves” instead. With any luck you will confuse the hell out of whomever you are texting and keep them awake for the rest of the night. It could become the text shorthand way of saying, “Hey there, I am drunk and crazy right now. Just thought you should know that.”


(This woman is minutes away from praising emancipation. Photo
by
nyki m/Flickr.)

Maybe you do not have any self-restraint. Maybe you are the type who needs to let fly when emotions and vodka run strong. If that is you, I have good news. Technology, which once existed only to deepen your shame, now can shield you from your drunken idiocy.

Google has added an option to its Gmail service that requires five simple math problems to be solved correctly in less than one minute before e-mail can be sent. To activate this setting, enter your Gmail account, click on “settings” and then select “labs.” Scroll down to – wait for it – “Mail Goggles” and select enable. Mail Goggles activates after dark and on weekends, when women are most likely to watch History Channel while drunk.

Is this a good idea? You better believe it.

On Thursday I interviewed Emily Post Institute spokesperson Anna Post for a magazine column I am writing. While I had Post on the phone I asked her if she would answer a few questions for this column. The great-great granddaughter of Emily Post is a good sport, has a sense of humor and is down-to-earth. Of course she said yes.
     
Anna said that she has been the recipient of drunken texts, e-mails and calls. She likes the idea of Mail Goggles.

“If you feel you need that help, by all means take it,” Post said. “It could save a friendship or relationship.”
 
I asked Post what a person should do if they are thinking about sending a text or e-mail whose content will be tainted by alcohol. She gave the type of sound advice one would expect from an institute that bills itself as “the civility barometer for American society.”

“Don’t do it,” she said. “I can’t think of a single story where that ends well. If your emotions are that genuine and strong at night, you will feel the same when you are sober the next day.”

And what if you fire off a drunken text anyway? What if Lincoln frees the slaves?

“Apologize, and don’t try to make a million excuses,” Post said.

In other words, don’t blame your old frenemy technology. Don’t send technology a 3 a.m. e-mail accusing it of letting you do crazy things every time you drink. It’s bad form and, unless drinking increases your math skills, it will be a hard move to pull off.

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