We live in the age of the listserv. Yes, the listserv– that thing where a bunch of people we know or sort of know are able to send an email to the rest of us. That thing that pings our inbox every-so-often with something that we have the time or the interest to read. That thing that every-so-often gives us a gem, something worth holding on to.

Well I’m here to say that there are listservs and there are listservs. There are email distribution groups that we’re a part of by force and there are those that we are a part of by choice. It’s the latter– the voluntary listservs that have me thinking (and feeling) at the moment.

I’m a part of a listserv of a small group of folks that I spent an intensive 18 months of professional development with. There’s not a person on this listserv that I don’t a) respect b) believe in c) care for d) wish I could have a cup of coffee with. But the problem with the listserv is that, like most email, it’s transactional rather than relational. People that I respect, believe in, care about, and want to drink coffee with post requests for things they need, questions they have about work, and so on. Except every now and then, someone posts something relational. Every now and then someone posts something personal. And I, in my general disdain for the transactional, miss it.

Tonight I had the chance to revisit something that one of my friends– someone I respect, believe in, care for, and wish I could have a cup of coffee with– posted. It was a blog post about her child. Because someone else on the listserv read it and responded I took the 90 seconds it took to read it myself. And I could cry. I could cry that someone I respect, believe in, care for, and would love to spend a few hours with– posted something so intensely personal and powerful and I almost missed it entirely.

If you’re on such a listserv– a voluntary listserv populated by people you respect, believe in, care about, and would love to be in a room with– for god’s sake read what they post, especially when it’s personal. Don’t pretend to be too busy or aloof like I did. Don’t do it for them (or DO do it for them), do it for yourself.