6ix Deadly E-Mail Diseases

A couple of years back I had written this as a note on Facebook. As is the nature with diseases, they have mutated into more virulent forms and have struck havoc with many personalities (like Lalit Modi & N Srinivasan for example). What I mean is this list might be old but most certainly not outdated


The malaise that makes the sender of an e-mail add on more people to the CC list as a chain grows. Very soon recipients are unsure why they are receiving the mails (especially the new entrants who behave like someone who got the men’s and women’s rooms mixed up). Most people read the thread top-down, resulting in what is popularly called the “Memento Effect” – following a sequence of events in reverse chronological direction.


The patient suffers from a virulent version of identity crisis. This is a typical psycho malaise in which the patient is reticent to disclose his friends to other friends. Is very prevalent in forwarding jokes and other irrelevant stuff. The disease spreads by multiplication where a BCC recipient might further fwd the same message using BCC and often to the people who were in the first BCC list. Added Complexity: Some patients – in more advanced stages of the disease – alter the content of a mail while forwarding to blind lists. The original perpetrator of the chain often gets back the same mail – in BCC, of course – and spends a lot of time in creating “diff-reports”


People who are getting closer to embracing Alzheimer’s display this property. The sender usually writes a long verbose e-mail body describing the contents of an alleged attachment. Excellent stuff, until it is found that the mail sent out did not contain the attachment. Typically followed by every recipient replying to all that the attachment was missing. They very soon form a very happy – but not necessarily small – family. Medical advancement: A few software developers have published utilities that detect missing attachments. The software essentially snoops your e-mail and fails miserably when you write “Ms. Jayalalitha did a poetic dance presentation when she was attached with the Karunanidhi foundation of Family Charity”. The software expects you to attach one Ms. Jayalalitha.

Send Anxiety

A mainly psycho-somatic affliction where the composer of an email hovers endlessly over the send button. Generally caused by the freezing of the right index finger over the left mouse button when the mouse pointer is poised over the Send button of any email application. Mathematically, the intensity of anxiety (A) is equal to the square of the sum of absolute cumulative difference of levels of all recipients (reference point = sender) about to receive the mail.

Delivery Anxiety

The patient suffers from extreme discomfort after sending email; this discomfort can only be relieved by actually talking to the recipient of the email and asking “did you get my email?” If the answer is in the negative, the patient feels compelled to spell out the contents of the email in detail thus combining the disadvantages of both synchronous and asynchronous communication

H0B2S Flu (a/k/a Have Zero Brains To Show)

The e-mail is about a specific person or persons and the sender (patient hereafter) wants to know more about them. Instead of consulting the corporate intranet, the patient includes them in the “To” or “CC” list and double clicks to check properties (MS Outlook workflow). Glowing in an aura of self congratulation, the patient forgets to remove these people from the recipient list when hitting the “send” button. Many people, about to be terminated, have actually benefited from this disease and with this as weapon have often got the patients terminated instead (close contender for Corporate Darwin Award for Gene Pool Consciousness – having cleaned up a gene pool by taking oneself out of it)

Post Script

A friend on Facebook had suggested two diseases I must consider for inclusion – Delivery Receiptitis Syndrome (DRS) and Message Recallus Anxiety (MRA). Please put comment if you have encountered others that we should be writing about

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