These days our inboxes are crawling with spam, far beyond the stuff that makes it past the actual designated "spam" folder.
There are the newsletters we swear we’ve already unsubscribed from, the creepily personal messages from politicians, the desperate pleas for attention from Facebook, and now, thanks to the latest Gmail update nobody asked for, the judge-y (and frankly, rude) reminders such as, “Hey Kate, it’s been five days! Why haven’t you responded to that PR rep who still hasn’t figured out you got laid off five months ago?”
But the salvageable bits in this trash heap, I’d argue, are the rambling, never-ending group threads from your friends and party associates.
Reply-all should be cherished, not abhorred. The higher the thread count, the better. If you BCC your alleged pals to a barbecue because you can’t “trust” them not to “abuse” reply-all, consider the possibility that you actually hate these people and you should get new friends.
Sure, in olden times we didn’t get to see the guest list — and that’s still true of invites to more formal occasions, such as weddings or graduation parties, sent via snail mail. How quaint.
But when you BCC me and the occasion is like, Friday night karaoke, that makes you seem suspicious. What, or who, are you hiding on that BCC list?
“The BCC is the digital equivalent of pulling everyone aside separately at a party to tell them the same thing,” argues my friend Sabine, who Gets It. “Just tell it to the group and let them talk to each other. Don’t be a BCC social dictator.”
Dinner parties are often a mishmash of different people coming together under one roof for refreshing drinks and a tasty, home cooked meal. Because of that, conversations can be nothing but awkward explanations of what everyone does for a living. Lame! Kick things off this way instead.
I’ve heard the argument that folks use blind carbon copy to protect the privacy of the group’s email addresses. From whom are you protecting them, though?
If you’re worried one of your friends is going to inappropriately private message someone on the list, maybe ask yourself if it’s worth it to have untrustworthy creeps for friends. At the very least, banish them from any future group correspondence and just reach out to them separately for invites.
With your no-creeps policy established, there are a bunch of good reasons to leave the CCs open and let your friends have at it:
The email thread acts as a kind of pre-party
Not only is CC’ing “the democratic email system we all deserve,” per Sabine, but also, “the best parts of any plan come from the CC’ed email thread, anyway,” she says.
Ostensibly, you’re inviting this group of people because you like them and think they’re fun and good at parties, so why not create a forum wherein they can comment and make suggestions that might even improve the hang?
My friend Dave, an avid sender of CC’d group emails, and King of the Reply-all, agrees that it’s all in the service of Fun. “I think replying all gives people who are friends with each other a chance to dick around and do memes, as well as allowing otherwise normal emails to go strange places,” he says.
I’ve been on the receiving end of a large swath of these emails for years, and while I can attest that, sure, some of the reply-alls are wittier than others, and some of these “strange places” were perhaps better left un-probed, I’m not such a snob that one lacklustre GIF will be the deal breaker that leads me to decline an otherwise promising invite and never talk to a group of people again.
I’d rather have friends who can get a little messy or obnoxious, IRL or online, than ones who police me because one time I emailed them with a bad pun.
You’ll get more people to come
If you can get over your irrational fear of reply-all (which, when you think about it, is essentially a fear of receiving emails from your friends, which doesn’t make any sense?) CC’ing a party invite is just practical, for several reasons.
Here’s one: It’s nearly impossible to remember to invite everybody you want to on the thread. Typically, the sender will include a disclaimer like, “Forward this to anybody I forgot!” But if you BCC the email, as a wise friend pointed out, “How are people supposed to know who you’ve missed if they don’t know who you’ve invited?” A duh.
On the recipient end, receiving a CC’d invite can make a prospective social function more enticing. “I’m more inclined to go to a party, personally, if I know which people/which friend groups are going to be there,” says another anonymous friend. “A BCC’d email also feels less personal and therefore easier to ignore.”
Maybe you’ll get amped when you see that your crush is invited (and take the time to prepare yourself mentally/obsess about it for days/plan your outfit, however you handle such an affliction), or a friend you haven’t seen in a long time. Maybe you’ll see that your neighbour is invited, and opt to carpool with them, or grab a pre-party beverage.
You talked about your plans with your friends face to face, you made a Facebook event page and invited them - but people still seem to flake out on you. What gives? Well, you're still not making it easy enough for them.
You save yourself time
Logistically, sending a planning email as a BCC can be a hassle. If you need to send a follow-up or alert guests to a change in plans, you have to copy and paste each email address back into the BCC field, whereas replying all could have been done with one click.
You save your friends from potentially uncomfortable run-ins
Making the guest list visible is, if you think about it, an act of consideration towards your friends. It helps to get a heads-up if, say, your nemesis or ex will be attending.
It isn’t nice to socially blindside the people that you ostensibly care enough about to invite to your functions. Respect them as adults by giving them the information they need to make informed decisions about how and with whom they spend their time.
Besides, if you’re using BCC to avoid the messiness of having frenemies on a group email together, then how are you going to feel when they’re physically in the same room?
Knowing who’s invited also saves everybody the potential awkwardness of bringing up the event to a friend and finding out they weren’t included.
To all the BCC proponents — or as I like to call them, enemies of disclosure — who are quick to roll their eyes and launch into a screed about how it’s just the worst when people reply-all to the thread, I ask: Who hurt you, truly?
Sure, maybe your friends are trash, but don’t treat them like email spam. If the reply-all pile up is really that irksome to you, there’s an easy fix: Just mute the thread. Don’t deny the rest of the gang the social forum they crave and deserve. Friends don’t let friends BCC each other.