Merlin's Frequently Asked Questions > Merlin, Connectedness, and the So-Called Social Graph > Why don’t you respond to my awesome email messages?

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It’s nothing personal, and it most definitely has zero to do with you, your email, or your awesomeness, all of which we’ll take as read.

The problem is: every email message is a pebble.

What? A Pebble?

Yes. A pebble.

What I mean is: it seems like nothing for me to hand someone one tiny little pebble. Geez, what’s the big deal, right? It’s no big deal to carry a pebble. But, how do I know how many pebbles that person was already carrying at the moment mine showed up? And, more importantly, is there any way for me to know how many dozens or thousands of other people are trying to hand that person “just one pebble” today? No. There’s no way to know.

This is why—at least from a distance and in the absence of context—it seems really unreasonable, selfish, and just not very nice to ignore a person’s desire to reach out to you. I so get that.

But, unfortunately, I get way more pebbles than I could ever hope to do anything sensible with.

The Hidden Costs

Truthfully? If I did choose to read, process, and personally respond to every email message I receive, three things would need to happen every day for the rest of my life:

  1. I’d have to spend about half of every day just answering individual emails—essentially spending half my career on writing for one-person audiences. And that’s not without an opportunity cost. Because, any of the attention that I might cobble together in the service of this Sisyphean labor would come at the expense of time I now firewall for my family and for maintaining focus on trying to make real stuff to the best of my ability. So, that would suck on all counts.

  2. In order to respond to people at scale, I’d have to send nothing but dumb, boilerplate template responses which might as well have come from a robot with my photo taped to it. And that’s incredibly lame.

  3. Becoming a giant phony at the expense of my life and work is so antithetical to the message I want to share, and—sure, I’ll say it—my values, that it’s actually kind of mind-blowing to me that folks who claim to love that work sometimes don’t see the massive disconnect. But, that’s just me. And, I’m cool with that.

So, yes. I do unreservedly apologize that I probably won’t see or respond to your awesome email unless it’s about my work or we already know each other IRL. Because, believe it or not, answering email is actually something I used to be pretty great at. Also, just in my own defense, anybody who’s ever actually met me will tell you I’m not a bad guy, and that I really do like meeting new people and making new connections. Truly.

But in order to spend that time with real people— and to try and keep making things that are awesome—I need to not spend a lot of time on email. I wish it could be different, but it can’t. Sad trombone.

Contacting Merlin about work

Now, on more admittedly mercantile matters, if you’re a potential client who needs to contact me about work-related stuff, like my speaking engagements, please do absolutely drop a line, and I will be happy and honored to get you whatever you need to decide whether you’d like to hire me.

Thanks for reading this and thanks very much for understanding.