I know it shouldn't surprise me but it does. The way some people think email can be used really makes me realise how conventions associated with communication technologies are always being negotiated and what I think is bleeding obvious is clearly not for all.
Today I received an email from a guy inviting me to a movie this Saturday night. Now firstly, I should say I identified the name of the sender immediately and recognised it wasn't spam. I also noted that it didn't appear to be a personal invitation. It had that impersonal, directed at the world in general tone. He asked, "Does anyone want to go to the movies with me?" This made me very curious. Clearly I was on some kind of a list and one of a number of people invited on this...was it a date? It wasn't clear whether it was a date or not. I expanded the header of the email because my mail program is set to suppress this level of detail. And yes, it seemed my initial thought had been correct. I was among 11 others invited to go see a film with this guy. Was it a group date? All the names on the list were familiar and they seemed to be all the female members of a singing group that I usually attend. It all started to click into place. I handed out my email address to be contacted for events associated with this singing group and this group list is now being used by one member for personal reasons in order to invite 'someone'/'anyone' to go see a movie on Saturday night. The group maillist, normally associated with a very particular activity and purpose is being used by this person as his own personal network.
Now, I don't think this act rates as abusive (at least not in my reckoning). It was obviously not designed to be malicious and doesn't come across as intentional mis-use of a list. What does surprise me though, is that he obviously thinks this is perfectly OK use of a group list. But I don't feel comfortable about that and it occurred to me that I assume that most of the women on the list would feel the same way. What do you think?