Email can be a tricky medium in which to communicate. But if you've ever found yourself coming off as unintentionally surly in your written communications, good news: The new Chrome extension Emotional Labor will add a dose of bright, cheerful enthusiasm to all your emails at the click of a button. Never again will you have to worry about accidentally offending anyone with your brusque tone! How wonderful! Huzzah!
While it's true that all you really need to do to add a little pep to your words is, y'know, put in some effort (see my above explanation), sometimes, you just don't feel like it… or you don't have the time… or you're having a particularly terrible day… or whatever. That's why Emotional Labor exists: To put in that effort when you're just not up to it yourself. The extension was created by writer and researcher Joanne McNeil, who, according to her website, focuses her work on “the ways technology is shaping art, politics, and society.” While all that makes sense — of course someone interested in how technology is shaping art, politics, and society would want to see what happens when our own individual styles and linguistic nuances get turned into something entirely different — McNeil also recently penned a piece on Medium elaborating on how Emotional Labor came to be.
The inspiration? Canned responses. Whether you send them from an app like Romantimatic (which, McNeil noted, solidly illustrates “where credence to authenticity should outweigh urgency and obligation”) or whether you keep a folder of them to launch into the world whenever you need a generic reply, there's no denying that they're… well, kind of weird. Not only that, but for all their claims at boosting your efficiency, they're kind of impractical. Wrote McNeil, “I have a few shortcuts for texting on my phone (autocorrect 'OMW' to 'On my way!' has saved me precious seconds when I’ve needed to remove my gloves to text someone in the cold.) But I never found a reason to use canned answers. Nothing in my life is structured for its use.” Come to think of it, that's probably why I use them so infrequently myself.
Emotional Labor isn't exactly meant to make canned responses practical; rather, it's meant to point out how bizarre canned responses are in the first place. “The Emotional Labor email extension looks fake,” wrote McNeil on Medium. “That's the point. I wanted to reveal my exhaustion, my fatigue in needing to attend to so much correspondence. Until there is an emoticon for 'Things are kind of not great but I don't want to disturb you let's just pretend things are fine.” I think it's safe to say that the extension achieves its goal, too — take a look at it in action.
After you install the extension, all you need to do is boot up Chrome, log into your email, and start drafting something:
(Yes, that's the Gettysburg address. It doesn't get much more solemn than that, right?)
Then just click the smiley face icon in the upper right hand corner and watch the magic happen:
You guys. So. Many. Exclamation points. So many. I'm not sure any President in history has sounded that enthusiastic during any of their addresses to the nation before. Fun, isn't it?
But Presidential speeches are far from the only chunks of writing that could benefit from Emotional Labor. What about a love poem? Here's the before:
And here's the after:
I'm not sure why it change the font, but whatever. Whomever is reciting this one really loves Shakespeare.
Or what about something a little more… well… sobering? Some Sylvia Plath, perhaps? Before:
That… is magnificent. Truly, truly magnificent.
I think my work here is done. If you want to play around with Emotional Labor yourself, download it here. Have fun!
Images: Fotolia; Captioned Gif/Tumblr; Lucia Peters (6)