At last there’s a way to cool down before we flame online; those folks at Google have come up with a remedy for emotional hijacks at the keyboard.
A “flame” occurs when we’re a bit agitated – frustrated, anxious, jealous, emotionally desperate – and compose an email, hit “Send” … and regret having sent it.
This happens particularly often online, as I’ve explained in Social Intelligence, because the brain circuitry that kicks in to keep us from embarrassing ourselves while face-to-face on the phone with someone gets no signals online. The result has been called the “disinhibition” effect; what gets disinhibited is our emotional impulses.
The Google software helps by getting us to switch from the hot-tempered amygdala to our cool neocortex before we hit send. It’s a neat little device that requires you do about 45 seconds of math problems before the “send” button will operate. Called “Mail Goggles,” the software operates only late at night and on weekends, when we presumably are most predisposed to sending regrettable messages in the heat of the moment.
As Jon Perlow, the software engineer who developed Goggles explains: “Sometimes I send messages I shouldn’t send. Like the time I told that girl I had a crush on her over text message. Or the time I sent that late night email to my ex-girlfriend that we should get back together. Gmail can’t always prevent you from sending messages you might later regret, but today we’re launching a new Labs feature I wrote called Mail Goggles which may help.
“When you enable Mail Goggles, it will check that you’re really sure you want to send that late night Friday email. And what better way to check than by making you solve a few simple math problems after you click send to verify you’re in the right state of mind?”
To check out this virtual emotional intelligence enhancer: