What a load of crap this new email “unsend” feature is.

If you’re lost already, don’t worry. I am too. Because when I heard that Gmail had finally catered to one of the interweb’s most frequently entered search engine keyword combos (third, I assume, right after “hentai” and “goats in pajamas” #educatedguesses), I thought exactly three things: 1.) Don’t they already have a shitty version of that at the moment? 2.) I’m pretty sure they already have a shitty version of that at the moment. 3.) This new thing must be better.

As it turns out, I was correct on the first two counts and horribly wrong on the last one. Because, speaking of counts, the count of ten was previously all you had to undo the Russian war novel length schizophrenic email you just sent to your personal hero because you were withdrawing from a decade long dependency to valium (which he magnanimously helped you quit. #anotherstory #movingon). So, I’d say this update we’re suddenly hearing about is a good thing. Right? Because, if they’re bringing it up again as “news”, obviously that signifies that it’s a “new and improved” version of the previous one, right? One that actually lets you sleep on it, slowly return to sanity, and snatch it back from the ether if it’s not yet been read?


At most, the latest Gmail undo function allows you a whopping half minute to go through each stage of sender’s remorse: 1.) Questioning your message 2.) Answering said self-doubt question with all the empathy of a Roman emperor giving the cruel thumb signal of death. 3.) Letting regret set in enough to act on that decision. 4.) Searching for the “unsend” function.

Seriously? Half a minute for all of that? It takes me half an hour just to achieve point four alone. (But I’m not alone, apparently, in that fraught and fruitless treasure hunt, seeing as it’s such a commonly sought search inquiry). And I’m meant to try and fit in the long and arduous process of coming to my senses in an amount of time that’s so short it shouldn’t even be a button option on my microwave? (Really: tell me you’ve ever gotten something palatably warm within thirty seconds.) I dunno why Gmail’s going troll level: expert with this non-improvement notification. But my guess is that they’re just gonna keep doing the douchebag version of what Apple does with its (minimally improved) products each year. Or what I do with my phone alarm made by them every morning (coincidentally right around the actual time I usually realize the gravity of my prior e-mistakes) while I’m mumbling “just another 5 minutes”. Except – at this rate of incremental “10, 20, and 30 second options” – the increased time on the unsend function won’t be in minutes like my snooze settings. Not for at least another three updates. The only similarity is that by the time we finally reach the anticlimactic minute mark, it’ll be just as snooze inducing as my digital rooster announcing a new day. (Not many more e-piphanies happen within a minute than half of one.)

But, as ever, in AshleyPants land, we like to look at solutions.

And, as someone who’s no stranger to spontaneous psychotic break induced bouts of lamentable web word vomit (see: this blog), I can help and stuff. Step one? Let’s start by ignoring the useless unsend function until Gmail comes to its senses and nixes the time limitations altogether. Pretend it’s not even there – like your catty coworker. Or crying infant. In my experience, the best way avoid traipsing into regrettable territory is to avoid the thing that causes regret. And how do you know if you’ll regret it? I’m sure it varies, but some good signs are if it A.) Makes you nervous as you read the email you’re replying to. B.) Makes you nervous as you actually reply . C.) Takes closer to the minimum amount of time Gmail should be allowing for an unsend feature (5 hours) to create a first, second, and final draft before you’re willing to actually send it. Just to list a few. Great. So… how to fix it? Patience. Delay actually sending the email you’re unsure about. I mean, in that time period, do write it. (With the address empty.) And do send it. But send it to yourself. Why? Well, you know how WordPress (thing I’m using as I type this) allows a preview option? And how sometimes you don’t realize how dumb and mundane your stuff is till you see it the way others will on the web? And imagine yourself as the audience? A self-send is kinda like that. There’s something about seeing your final draft through the eyes of another person that grants you this Being-John-Malkovichian level self-awareness to bear witness to your absurd words. Plus all the time you need to tweak ’em.

Before you have to regret (much less unsend) some binary string of them to an actual human.