An email chain to end all email chains circulated around the Office of International Programs listserv Tuesday afternoon, all because a couple of people wanted to UNSUBSCRIBE.
What started off as an innocent mistake by OIP—sending their April newsletter out twice in a row on Monday—soon spiraled into sheer madness. As of 5 p.m. Tuesday evening, the chain had a whopping 233 responses, all from students expressing varying degrees of frustration or glee.
Twelve people replied “UNSUBSCRIBE” to the newsletter, which harmlessly reminded students to sign up for adviser meetings and pubbed OIP’s Instagram account. Then, things started to get interesting.
Rachel King was the first to break the chain of UNSUBSCRIBEs (yes, they were all caps).
“Don’t reply all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,” King wrote. “Sent from my iPhone.”
After another flurry of people still attempting to UNSUBSCRIBE, ignoring King’s advice, students in the chain began encouraging those looking for an end to the chaos to check out the handy-dandy link at the bottom of the original email labeled “unsubscribe from this list.”
But those four eight-point font words had no power over the growing pile of messages beginning to take over inboxes across campus. The listserv, otherwise known as dimitroc.sd0340.990007731501.listserv.bc.edu, appears to include anyone who’s ever had any contact with OIP and even some who haven’t even done that.
People started getting trigger-happy with the “reply all” button. Some cleverly subverted the theme of the thread with emails that simply read “SUBSCRIBE.” Some were genuinely looking for help finding the link so they could be released. Jill Mercer (a staff writer for The Gavel) suggested the group look into reading glasses to help them out.
Repliers started talking to their friends in the thread. One started a game of tic tac toe. One looked for easy class recommendations for his senior year, while another asked for good professors. People plugged their Instagram handles and Venmo usernames, taking advantage of a captive audience.
Subscribers were reminded that Game of Thrones starts back up on April 14 and that Women’s Club Basketball is holding a fundraiser tonight from 8-12 p.m. at White Mountain. Someone even tried to find a subletter.
As the day wore on, the thread predictably descended into nonsense. By about 3:30 p.m., the original chain had spawned two spinoffs, the largest overtaking the original with over 100 messages at posting time.
There, everyone was treated to the entire Bee Movie script, people promoted plays, club events, and ramen dates, and memes and gifs entered the fray. Pop culture came out to play with references to Fortnite, Mr. Brightside, Shrek, and the new Avengers movie. A group chat was suggested to keep the stimulating conversation going.
And some people were still trying to UNSUBSCRIBE.
Eventually, I had to (mentally) UNSUBSCRIBE myself. I made a cup of tea, closed my email tab for the first time in months, and tried to think about what we all learned from this.
But we didn’t learn anything, besides how quickly a group of bored, stressed college students can blitz out hundreds of inboxes. And that’s okay.