More than 20,000 Utah state government employees saw their email inboxes bombarded with messages last weekend after an otherwise innocuous invitation to an office holiday potluck was inadvertently sent statewide and pulled into a black hole of reply-all responses.
The nightmare scenario familiar to and dreaded by office workers everywhere was documented on Twitter by Joe Dougherty, who fittingly works as spokesman for the Utah Division of Emergency Management. At 10 a.m. Friday he posted a photo of his inbox, showing the many desperate pleas of reply-all victims begging to be let off the runaway email train.
After about an hour, Dougherty tweeted that the torrent of replies had largely subsided. But by that point the conversation online had drawn the attention of local and national media outlets, including Vice, Newsweek and The New York Times.
The crisis also got the attention of Utah’s lieutenant governor, Sanpete County farmer and prolific tweeter Spencer Cox, who joked (?) that he feared the email chain would never end.