When You Care Enough to Send a Canned Message

When You Care Enough to Send a Canned Message

A few days ago, something odd happened. I received the exact same message from various LinkedIn contacts:

“Congrats on your work anniversary!”

It was strange because:

  1. I’d already left my job (though my leaving did coincide, coincidentally, with my one-year anniversary), and

  2. It had been months since I’d even opened LinkedIn, and suddenly, on this one specific day, I received an onslaught of identical communication from random connections, none of whom know one another.

What gives?

Turns out my work anniversary appeared in my contacts’ notification section. Those who bothered to scroll through most likely saw, “Congratulate Sandra Ebejer for 1 year at {{company name}}.”

Once coming across this notification, said contacts could go out of their way to congratulate me on this momentous occasion by…clicking a button.

All they had to do is select the little “Say Congrats” icon and their work was done.

And I, in turn, could respond to their kind gesture by clicking one of three options:

Screen Shot 2018-09-28 at 10.37.14 AM.png

If I wanted, I could enhance the selection by contributing additional text of my own but, pssh, that’s crazy talk! No one actually does that.

At least, none of my contacts did.

Anti-Social Media

This bugs me. I get that we’re all moving quickly and have way too much coming at us at any given moment. Between networking sites, e-mail, texting, and 24/7 news channels, information is in our face all the time. So, I suppose I should be grateful to have a quick way on social media to say congrats, hello, or thank you.

But I’m not. It’s fake. Sending a congratulatory message by pressing a button isn’t actually sending a congratulatory message. It’s interacting with a website. It’s clicking a box. There’s nothing remotely personal or “social” about it.

I guarantee every single person who congratulated me on the work anniversary forget about it within seconds of hitting send. Perhaps they sent a dozen messages to others around the same time, each similar to the last: “Happy birthday!” or “Congrats on the new job!”

And I suppose you could say, “It’s the thought that counts!” But, what if there’s no thought behind it? What if the message is just ticking off a box on a checklist?

Call me old fashioned, or maybe just old, but I miss personal interaction.


Are We Really This Busy?

When I was a kid I exchanged handwritten notes with my bestie at school. Over time, our communication transitioned from scribbles on paper, to e-mails from the office, to text messages from our cell phones. Now our exchanges are primarily in the form of gifs and emojis.

In our advanced, technological society we’ve been reduced to communicating like cavemen. It’s kind of sad, this new quick-click world we’re living in.

But, is it necessary? Are we really so busy that we can’t take just a few additional moments to send a thoughtful word to our contacts?

As an example, instead of clicking “Congratulations” on a friend or colleague’s LinkedIn update, maybe write a note — something like:

“Hey! Just saw you hit the one-year milestone at work. That’s awesome! How’s it going?”

To which the recipient could reply,

“Too funny! I actually left that job the other day. It was great, but I’m transitioning in my career. Let’s find a date to catch up and I’ll fill you in!”

An extra 30 seconds. That’s it. Then you’ve made a connection, perhaps re-established a professional or personal relationship, and actually took time out of your day to genuinely wish someone well.

Maybe you can’t do this for every person in your news feed, but that’s okay! Most people would rather get a heartfelt message from one person who wants to reconnect than a simple “Congratulations” from a dozen people they only hear from once a year.

Let’s get back to using social media for its intended purpose: being social.

A version of this post first appeared in The Startup

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