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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.”
—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 — and, crucially, employers — are still learning how to establish rules and boundaries around real-time chat. “I personally felt so much anxiety over Slack,” Ms. O’Quigley said. “I 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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