Can you use Slack too much?

Thoughts on our reliance on apps and screens.

“We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”
β€”Marshall McLuhan


Credit: Simoul Alva

I’m hard-pressed to think of a tool that I enjoy using more than Slack. I’m an effusive advocate. It doesn’t surprise me that, for the last year and change, the most popular post on my blog has been How I Use Slack Inside of the Classroom.

As I write in Message Not Received, Slack and its ilk are just like any communications tool: You can use them too much when in-person conversations make far more sense.

It’s hardly a revolutionary thought, but think about that when you’re spinning in circles and you’re unable to get a simple answer to a question. Along these lines, from an excellent recent piece by John Herrman in The New York Times:

Slack also defies the social customs and expectations of email, codified over decades of use and misuse. Some employees β€” and, crucially, employers β€” are still learning how to establish rules and boundaries around real-time chat. β€œI personally felt so much anxiety over Slack,” Ms. O’Quigley said. β€œI love my job, but nothing triggers alarm bells like when you receive a message from your team or boss after work hours.”

Simon Says

Herrman’s article is fascinating. Read it and you’ll discover that many of the problems that excessive e-mail causes Slack doesn’t necessarily solve. In some cases, employees have just moved the headache from one medium (e-mail) to Slack.

Brass tacks: Slack breakups aren’t necessary if people move a discussion to more appropriate medium. Sometimes, it’s best to just talk to someone. If I were king at any organization experiencing Slack fatigue,1 I’d have them immediately implement my three-message rule. Think of Slack as just one communication club in the bag.


What say you?


  1. Yeah, that’s a thing.




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