Literary Backlash

Have you ever been instant messaging someone only to get a read receipt and nothing more? Sucks. Doesn’t it. I messaged someone in July and I’m still waiting for a response. I met him once, and that was when he served on an involvement panel for my class. Even still, I have his more than 50 phone card holders and have never gotten a response to return them to him.

Whether you have 50 phone card holders or 50 messages you sent that have been read, but with no replies, it’s important to gauge what you have and whether or not it’s important to you.

Yes, you can be that classic person who brushes everything off their shoulder and seems impermeable to any emotion, even if it is disappointment in another person, or, you can be that person who overreacts and blocks that same person within hours of the occurrence. It’s important to be neither.

1. Don’t overreact.

I know, this is the same as asking someone who clearly seems upset to calm down. It does nothing, it simply makes them angrier. But, trust me when I say, don’t overreact. Overreaction comes from taking immediate steps after realizing what has occurred. This is often in the form of blocking the person, not only from your contacts, but from every social media account where they are added. This may also look like a sudden rush you get from deleting every message and anything that could remind you of that person. Seems more like a break-up frenzy than anything. Doesn’t it? Before you take those steps, consider these points.

Lost for words. It’s simple. They don’t know what to say. Sometimes, your message may be so personal or straightforward, that the other person doesn’t know how to respond. They don’t want to be insensitive or simply reply with a word. This often leads to the unresponded “thank you.” Too straightforward. But, sometimes, you want the other person to find some words, just something, so that the conversation isn’t left hanging. But, it’s sometimes not easy knowing what to say. We don’t have all the answers, all the words, or in our minds, there is nothing more to add. They may look at the message for a while, think about it, but then exit. This leads to the three dot strobe lights that keep you anxious, but once their gone, leaves you a bit disappointed. Have tolerance. Not everyone thinks on their feet or knows how to respond.

Busy. Cliché. I know. They are too busy. Unless they are the CEO of some company or are out saving the world, are they really busy? Chances are, they might be. Things come up, whether we want them to or not. Someone needs our help, we are working on an intense project, or we are driving. Please, don’t expect a text message when someone is driving. Sometimes, people haven’t prioritized the time to respond to text messages because other urgent priorities come forward that require their time now. Not later. Now. Don’t be offended if someone apologizes stating that they had to do something and therefore, took a while to respond to you.

They forgot. I know, it’s kind of like having a book you haven’t read in a while. You think you remember reading a certain page. You got an idea of where you left off, but in reality, neither you nor your invisible bookmark know for certain. This happens with messages. We read them, think we have responded, and that’s that. We are the good friend that responded and the other is a jerk because they haven’t. So we wait patiently and eventually go back to the message. Oh. We didn’t actually reply… and it’s been a week. Sometimes we forget. We forget we never responded, we forget that we got a new message, we forget where our phone is half the time. The last one is the real issue. For real. If they forgot, forgive them. Sometimes we think ahead of our actions and sometimes we think we read the page or responded to the text message, when in reality, we didn’t.

Avoidance. Sometimes, the other person is simply avoiding you. Perhaps you did something that upset them, perhaps they don’t know you that well, perhaps they don’t feel comfortable talking to you, perhaps their trying to move on, and perhaps you did nothing at all. If you’re an ex-partner of some sort and are messaging your ex-partner, don’t expect long paragraphs spilling remorse. Probably, don’t expect anything. There are a variety of reasons why someone avoids someone else, but it’s important to respect their decision. You don’t ever want to force yourself on someone. Give them some space and some time, and if it is really bothering you, just ask them why they are avoiding you. If conflict arises, come to a compromise. If they still don’t want any contact, then respect their decision.

2. Don’t underreact.

I know. Great one. Didn’t realize it was opposite day. So observant. Sometimes, it’s best not to underreact. This is for all the passive individuals out there that just roll with the punches without realizing their actually getting punched in the face. It’s not always okay to brush things off and you don’t always have to be that understanding, kind friend who isn’t secretly waiting by the phone. If something is bothering you, say it.

Times Table. I get it. We are in primary school all over again. When you begin to realize that someone is playing times table, don’t go along with it. By playing times table, I mean, the person is really stretching the whole time is of the essence thing and they wait a certain amount of time before responding. It’s called strategy. If they respond too quickly, within seconds or minutes, they look like they have nothing better to do or are actually busy and are just procrastinating. Yeah, I have piles of homework to do, but I have time to be constantly message you for the next two hours. Or, if they message you too quickly, they look needy and are actually waiting by the phone in a silent room waiting to just hear their phone ding. So, they wait to reply to your message. They wait to look cool, to not look over-anxious, to show they are “busy,” or to feel like their message is still wanted. Kind of like that email in their inbox that they have yet to respond to. Oh, I’ll get to it. My response is still needed. My response is still valued. If you honestly have things to do and don’t have time to drag on a conversation, say it. Say it if you really appreciate your time. You may not have time to wait for their five hour nap to get a simple response to a question. State that it bothers you and that you would appreciate it if they were respectful of your time.

3. Know what and why you value what you do.

Is the person you are writing really important to you? Is the context of the conversation really important to you? Is what they say really important to you? If you message someone and they never respond, how would that make you feel? Take for instance the guy who never replied to me to return his more than 50 phone card holders. I’m not upset that he never responded. I’ve only met him once and don’t think his unresponsiveness was intentional (probably one of the reasons above). I didn’t place a lot of value on the 50 phone card holders. They are just handouts that clearly, he was in no rush or need to get back. I didn’t stay fixated on his unresponsiveness because I assessed whether or not the matter of the message (returning handouts) was really important to me. You do this. All the time actually. How does the meaning of what your crush has to say compare to what a stranger says to you? Probably a lot more. But why? Because you may have known your crush for longer, there are feelings attached, you have rosy colored glasses on where everything your crush says or do is amazing and absolutely right. Why? The value you place on the various factors at play is the same value you will place on the conversation. For instance, a message conversation about your plans after college may be more important to you than describing what you just ate for breakfast.

There are many perks to text messages, and there are some downfalls to text messages, including read receipts. Whatever side you are on, the receiver or messenger end, keep these points in mind, so there isn’t literary backlash.



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