1873: Email Reply

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Email Reply
I would be honored, but I know I don't belong in your network. The person you invited was someone who had not yet inflicted this two-year ordeal upon you. I'm no longer that person.
Title text: I would be honored, but I know I don't belong in your network. The person you invited was someone who had not yet inflicted this two-year ordeal upon you. I'm no longer that person.


Cueball is sitting at his desk writing an email. He is responding to Kevin, who sent him an email two years ago. Cueball is so far behind in responding to his email, he goes to great lengths to apologize for it. Instead of blaming the email culture which creates enormous quantities of messages, he blames himself for not keeping up. Failing to answer emails is a common symptom of general anxiety disorder, a problem which can snowball out of control as more and more emails go unread or unanswered.

At this point in the email, the reader assumes that Kevin's message really demanded a faster response, being personal and timely. Then Cueball reveals that the email is just the ubiquitous LinkedIn invitation. LinkedIn is a professional networking site notorious for inundating its users with emails inviting them to connect to other users (frequently people the user has little-to-no connection to), as well as any email contacts of their users whether or not they actually belong to LinkedIn themselves. Thus, an invitation to connect to LinkedIn is most often immediately deleted or ignored. A less socially anxious person who understands the irrelevance of such an email would not worry about failing to respond to such a request at all, and certainly would not pour his heart out in apology for failing to reply.

The title text makes Cueball's overinvestment in the email even more exaggerated, suggesting that Cueball is rejecting the invitation not because of its pointlessness, but because he feels that as a bad friend who doesn't respond to emails, he is no longer even worthy of it.

One could interpret the letter as a passive-aggressive lashing out, but that does not seem to be in character for Cueball. Had the character worn a Black Hat though...

Cueball's difficulty in checking his email was previously addressed in 1783: Emails (trivia: the comic numbers 1783 and 1873 are anagrammatic).

This is the fourth comic within a year where Randall uses "Kevin" as a go-to-name, although it was half a year since last time in 1795: All You Can Eat. See details in that comic's trivia.


[Cueball sits at a desk, typing on a laptop. The following message is displayed above him:]
Dear Kevin,
I'm sorry it's taken me two years to reply to your email. I've built up so much stress and anxiety around my email inbox; it's an unhealthy dynamic which is more psychological than technical. I've tried one magical solution after another, and as each one has failed, deep down I've grown more certain that the problem isn't email – it's me.
Regardless, these are my issues, not yours; you're my friend, and I owe you the basic courtesy of a response. I apologize for my neglect, and I hope you haven't been too hurt by my failure to reply.
Anyway, I appreciate your invitation to join your professional network on LinkedIn, but I'm afraid I must decline...

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This is me! :) Though I tend to alternate between overly apologetic replies to just deleting anything older than two years. RoyT (talk) 14:47, 7 August 2017 (UTC)

Probably doesn't belong in the comic explanation, but this from the "Reply All" podcast needs to be here: https://emaildebtforgiveness.me/DanB (talk) 15:07, 7 August 2017 (UTC)

Thanks for that link! And great that I can put off all that stuff almost yet another 9 months! -- 07:18, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

Isn't this a reprise of an earlier comic? I know I've seen xkcd cover this topic before.... 18:21, 7 August 2017 (UTC)

- Yes, I see it now, https://www.xkcd.com/1783/ 'Emails' (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Re. "Instead of blaming the email culture ... he blames himself" - he probably has a point, in that it's likely his tendency to write long missives in reply to mundane emails that has caused him to get so far behind, rather than the sheer volume of them in itself. 12:01, 8 August 2017 (UTC) David

I'm not happy with that sentence: "At this point in the email, the reader assumes that Kevin's message really demanded a faster response, being personal and timely." I didn't make such assumption at all. I'm fairly sure what the writer of that sentence wants to express but I'm not sure on _how_ to express that, either... Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 09:36, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

Possible joke?

So, I don't know if Randall did this on purpose, or if it was just my computer, but I could not access the comic in the morning. Maybe he did this on purpose, since the comic is about being late to respond to emails?Dretler (talk) 19:04, 7 August 2017 (UTC)

The comic was released between 14:30 and 14:32 UTC today. Unless you are living in Alaska this shouldn't be morning. Most comics are released at these times; sometimes even later. Only a few comics were available a 00:00 Randall home time (04:00 UTC). --Dgbrt (talk) 19:29, 7 August 2017 (UTC)
Actually, I'm in the Eastern time zone, which I think is the same as Randall, and I often go out on Tuesday and Thursday nights, where I check xkcd, and I frequently see Wednesday and Friday night comics as of midnight. (I recently changed Tuesday night to Monday night, so I guess I'll only see comics early on Thursdays now). :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 06:52, 8 August 2017 (UTC)
Possible joke?

In form the message bears a resemblance to Eminem's response to Stan in the song "Stan" - it could easily be coincidence, as it's also a fairly standard format for a late response. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Play on comic ids?

As was mentioned earlier https://www.xkcd.com/1783/ also is about email so is it by design or coincidence that 1783 and 1873 are about emails? Roo (talk)

I feel no doubt that this is related to 1783. Whether it's on purpose because of the numbers - I can't remember if he's ever referenced the numbers before, except I think 1000 - I find possible, but debatable. NiceGuy1 (talk) 06:52, 8 August 2017 (UTC)
Typical LinkedIn Email
[LinkedIn Logo]
[Name] would like to connect on LinkedIn. How would you like to respond?

[Job Title] at [Company]

Confirm you know [Name]

You received an invitation to connect. LinkedIn will use your email address to make suggestions to our members in features like People You May Know. Unsubscribe
This email was sent to [your email address].
If you need assistance or have questions, please contact LinkedIn Customer Service.
© 2017 LinkedIn Corporation, 1000 West Maude Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94085. LinkedIn and the LinkedIn logo are registered trademarks of LinkedIn.

This email is repeated with reminders and is probably sent automatically by scanning email address books or even past emails.

Would Kevin even get Cueball's response if Cueball simply hit reply? I would think that the original email would have come from the LinkedIn system, not Kevin himself. These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 02:38, 14 August 2017 (UTC)

Sebastian -- 00:17, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

I find this concept is still very "me", though I tend to be not THAT bad with real emails. However, I'm certain I have unread emails going back 8, 9, maybe 10 or more years. :) (though I almost never get real emails anymore, mostly just automated things. Not sure if this is a cause-and-effect vicious circle or that people don't email much anymore). :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 06:52, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

Email bankruptcy

This is related to Email bankruptcy ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Email_bankruptcy ) --ElfQrin (talk) 07:45, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

Writing style

Cueball's writing style feels anachronistic. From the early 20th century, before long distance phone calls, and long before email. I envisioned him writing this letter with a fountain pen and fancy handwriting, or at most a mechanical typewriter, and mailing it in an envelope with a stamp. This is his next "magical solution" to his difficulty replying to email. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Explanation misleading?

I would recommend rewording the explanation about LinkedIn as users are not the only ones to get those emails. I do not belong to, or have ever used LinkedIn, and still get those emails due to some of my professional contacts. To sum up, you do not need to be a user of LinkedIn to receive those emails, and the explanation suggests otherwise. 04:47, 10 August 2017 (UTC)

You are absolutely right, those emails go out to a person's email contacts, nothing to do with whether or not they belong to LinkedIn. I usually get them at email addresses that aren't connected to LinkedIn at all. I tried to adjust it as little as possible trying to more accurately reflect this. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:53, 15 August 2017 (UTC)