The Tyranny of the Single Opt-In Intro

Verdell Walker
5 min readMay 26, 2021
Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels

A sure sign that a situation has gotten out of hand is when you need to create a scripted response to it.

I was driven to that point a few years ago when I received one single opt-in introduction email too many. My employer at the time had posted a rare set of job openings and I’d been inundated with dozens of that age-old request to “learn more about my experience.” Ordinarily, these wouldn’t have been such irritants. But the deluge coincided with a stressful period in my life — my own taxing job hunt, an impending move, looking after an elderly parent — and my inbox was increasingly the site of repeated demands for time and energy I didn’t have to give. But while a cold email from a stranger is easy enough to ignore, most of this outreach came from people I knew cavalierly connecting me to people I didn’t without asking my permission first. The terms single opt-in intro and double opt-in intro hadn’t yet entered my vocabulary, but even though I didn’t have a name for them, I knew these connections were disrespectful incursions into not just my inbox and calendar, but my mental and emotional space. My heart rate would spike every time I got one of these, someone essentially volunteering one of my most precious commodities — my time — without my consent. Luckily, Google had just introduced one of Gmail’s greatest features, the canned response. I spent forty-five minutes one afternoon crafting a polite but firm generic message template that I labeled “Refusing a Connection.” It was an investment that yielded an immediate positive ROI of reclaiming my time and energy. It also allowed me to give the offenders a light tap on the wrist for their presumption.

Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

In many ways, email is a demolisher of gates. You can email anyone, so long as you have their address. The most popular app of all time functions in much the same way as the broader Internet, collapsing what used to be high or insurmountable physical barriers. And like the ease with which the Internet has made it easier for us to connect and make our voices heard, email has also made it easier for us to intrude upon one another. The complaints lobbed against social media platforms like Twitter also apply to email…