Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt, hosts of the excellent Reply All internet culture podcast, have created a new holiday that everyone with an email account should be celebrating—Email Debt Forgiveness Day. It’s this Sunday and gives you the excuse to respond to emails that are long overdue, without any apology or explanation. “You don’t ask for forgiveness, you just act like you’ve already achieved it,” Vogt told me.
The holiday was inspired by so-called tax amnesty days, and was invented as a way to cope with the anxiety that comes with life in the modern world and an email inbox that is forever ticking upward. “We have an incredible amount of anxiety about answering emails,” said Goldman. “So if we can get everyone in the United States…” “The world,” added Vogt. “Yes, if we can get everyone in the world to celebrate this holiday, it’s a freebie.” Instead of explaining the delay in response, Goldman and Vogt suggest simply linking to their website, which explains the origin of the sudden response.
The unofficial holiday is now in its third year. Goldman and Vogt estimate that there are hundreds of celebrants around the world. This Sunday, Goldman plans to pick up loose ends of stories he started to report on and then abandoned, and then to write a long-overdue email to his brother. Vogt plans to spend his Sunday making a dent in the thousands of messages in his inbox. He isn’t sure that he’ll make it through that morass, but as he notes, “What else do you have to do on Sunday?”