New Gmail App Wants to Make It Impossible For You to Ignore People Online

Say hello to Streak, the latest Google email application that will make it virtually impossible for you to ignore someone online.

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Say hello to Streak, the latest Google email application that will make it virtually impossible to not pay attention to people online. Well, you can still ignore them – but now at least they’ll know you’re ignoring them.

With Streak, users can see exactly when an email they sent has been read by its recipient, as soon as the email is opened. A creepy little green eye appears when the message is being read and a notification even pops up to alert the sender when a recipient begins reading.

OK, fine. Streak tells someone when you read their email. But then it takes it to another level: Streak tells the sender where you are when you read the email, what device you read it on, and how many times you’ve read it. My goodness, that is thorough. You might as well have the person standing right next to you when you read their email.

What this means, then, is that you’ll never be able to ignore someone’s email ever again.

If a person knows you’ve read their email, but you don’t respond right away, the sender will believe (or know) that you’re willingly ignoring them. It’s the same as the read receipt feature on Apple’s iMessage. There is no pretending you haven’t read it yet. A response must be immediate, as if the two of you were talking face-to-face.

This, along with the horror that is the “is typing …” feature on Gchat (and most instant messengers clients, has completely eradicated any opportunity for a delayed response in online conversation. As Ben Crair writes in The New Republic:

But knowing when your partner is typing can also have the unsettling effect that Thompson described: It makes visible the care with which we pick our words. And the more visible this care becomes, the more the reader distrusts the message … It’s also just the case that the longer a response the take, the more we expect that it will somehow disappoint us.

The same goes for email. If the person we’re communicating with knows we’ve read their message but are taking a long time to respond, a worry might arise that we’re either thinking hard about what we’re saying, or trying to word an unfortunate response carefully. The longer a response takes, the more likely it’s bad news – or at least that’s what people might think, anyway.

Photos via Streak.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.