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New Gmail extension adds some fake emotion to your messages

If you’ve ever felt the burden of having to appear enthusiastic in an email, then a new Google Chrome extension may be just what you’re looking for.

The Emotional Labor extension has been designed by researcher Joanne McNeil and automatically gives your messages a bit more pep, no matter how uninterested you’re actually feeling.

Read more: Brits are sending over 1,500 pointless emails each year

McNeil explained that she created the extension after realising the extent to which written communication is used in many jobs.

"It replaces serious words with playful ones, swaps out periods for exclamation marks, and adds cheerful introductory text," she explained. "I was inspired to create the extension after many futile attempts to start using canned responses, but nothing in my life is structured for its use."

While some may bemoan the acceptance of more, largely fake, platitudes into our daily life, McNeil is well aware of insincerity at the heart of Emotional Labor. In fact, it is partly a response to the Romantimatic app that was released last year, which sends automated “I love you” messages to your partner. It is in this landscape, where authenticity must contest against urgency, that Emotional Labor resides.

“The Emotional Labor email extension looks fake. That’s the point,” adds McNeil. “I wanted to reveal my exhaustion, my fatigue in needing to attend to so much correspondence. Until there is an emoticon for 'Things are kind of not great but I don’t want to disturb you let’s just pretend things are fine,' that’s the grey area where this project resides. I made this to reveal the friction in my indecisiveness — how many xs do I normally sign off — one, two, three?”

Read more: Whitepaper: The future of email and applications is social

Anyone wishing to add some warmth to their emails can download the Emotional Labor extension here.

Barclay Ballard
Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.