Something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is the pressure we can feel to respond to messages. In some ways, it can manifest as the problem of Saying No.
With read receipts, online status and the culture’s obsession with social media, it can be difficult to switch off and disconnect. This is made more difficult when we receive messages or requests from people that don’t always require an urgent response.
I try to tell my friends and loved ones that if something is urgent, please always let me know and I will get back as soon as possible. Some things have to be dropped to respond urgently. But other times, we can’t always respond immediately. The problem lies with the pressure to respond if we appear to be “online” or “active”. There is an anxiety associated with leaving messages unread for a long time. We don’t want people to think ill of us or think we’re ignoring them, but we sometimes need to find the headspace or the right words to respond.
I actually received a “reminder” from someone the other day (that I have to admit annoyed me), telling me that I was yet to respond to them. I’m not making excuses, although there were reasons why I didn’t respond sooner, but it got me thinking about this pressure and expectancy to respond.
I try to put across the message that a slow reply isn’t out of personal spite or rudeness. But I don’t think an expectation to respond, when the sender wants, is healthy or helpful.
We never know what’s going on in someone’s life and I think we all need the humility to be patient and say: “please, respond as and when you can. I hope you’re okay and look forward to hearing from you”.