Years ago I used to dream of the day that technology would allow me to see that a text or online message I had sent to a person was received and read. However, the part I didn’t dream about was the feeling one could have when a message, which needs a reply, is merely just read and left behind.
With Apple’s iMessage and Facebook’s Messages allowing a person to see if his message has been seen or not, the excuse of “sorry, I didn’t see it,” has become a far harder one to embrace from a sender’s point of view. Sure, people get busy and stuff gets forgotten about, but damn, it can feel awful to get the digital cold shoulder.
After a few days the feeling of angst and frustration toward the negligent recipient passes, but there’s still that little pestering voice that squabbles in a person’s head wondering why the communication breakdown has taken place and how it can be rectified.
If it’s a person that’s seen every day, a quick conversation about it after the fact can calm the nerves. But, what if it’s an acquaintance or friend that isn’t seen as often?
Is it sensible to send yet another message to remind this person that being left hanging on a limb is a rather uncomfortable place to be? Is it not at all creepy to be more obvious about needing a response by, in the case of Facebook, posting a “check your Messages” reminder on the individual’s wall? Determining the proper etiquette in the digital world is still a work in progress.
Sure, these ideas can rattle around between the ears, but they can prove challenging to follow through on. After all, appearing desperate in such scenarios is not a good look for anyone. Nor is being a pesterer that is so full of himself that he expects responses to be flipped back to him with much enthusiasm and graciousness, in an ultra-timely manner.
I recommend patience. Flipping out on someone over what really could just be a slip of mind or good intentions spoiled by a lack execution is no way to handle such scenarios if you want people ever responding to your messages again.
Of course, managing emotions in the digital era is a tricky ship to steer…we’re all still learning. However, keeping both hands on the wheel and slowing down is a great start. We’ll all get where we need to be eventually.