Woe Is Me! “People Think I’m Rude For Not Responding To Messages Instantly. Am I?”


Apr 16, 2023


Image Credit: Waris (1954)

Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.

“I understand that we are in the age of instant communication, but I don’t think I am obligated to respond to someone’s text immediately — unless it’s urgent, related to work, or the person is living with me (which currently includes my parents and siblings). However, people think I have zero manners and etiquettes, in this regard. What do you guys think?”

— Mark unread

DR: You’re not rude. In fact, I it’s very healthy if one is so glued to one’s phone that one is always, without fail, instantly reply to everyone, every day — irrespective of whether or not it elicits an urgent response. I’ve been in the same boat as you, though. And I’ve come to realize that people who throw the biggest fits over not being replied to immediately, either have really low self-esteem, or an extremely fragile — and often, insatiable — ego. You’ll notice, though, that the former set of people are mostly understanding if you explain to them that the time you take to reply isn’t reflective of their importance in your life, and that it’s just how your texting behavior is. As for those with egos bigger than Jupiter, you can tell them it’s not your problem to deal with, and that you never consented to the responsibility of putting your life on hold to stroke their ego. Also, in my humble, personal opinion, for the sake of your own mental health, it is wiser to minimize contact to the extent possible with the colossal-ego variety — it gets very exhausting trying to be yourself while simultaneously ensuring you don’t accidentally hurt their ego simply by disagreeing with them on how you want to celebrate your birthday, or the amount of sugar that you like in your tea. 

AB: In all honesty, I’ve been in your position for most of my adult life — I know exactly how exhausting responding to messages can be. However, we do live in a world where text messaging is the most prolific form of communication, especially in a post-Covid19 world, so it’s a necessary evil. Your friends might become accustomed to your attitude (as mine did), take it as part and parcel of being friends with you, and rely more heavily on in-person meet-ups. What about those who live elsewhere, who you don’t see on a regular basis? The only way to maintain those relationships is through calling or texting. In order to be a social person (which is a part of being human), this is something I’d recommend improving on. I sympathize that you don’t feel obligated to respond immediately but this is how communication is done now — there must be a compromise made, from your end and theirs. Otherwise you risk missing out on important relationships.

HK: The digital age has skewed our perception of relations, and immediacy has become the norm sadly — reinforcing a sense of guilt if you take your time to get back to a person. Setting personal boundaries, especially in an online set-up, is necessary. Otherwise, life tends to get a bit overwhelming. To expect instant responses is an assertion in itself, and I am personally in full support of the anti-screentime revolution. However, if a friend has made it clear that late replies make them anxious, it would be a nice gesture to simply address the elephant in the room — and let them know that an unopened text does not dictate the end of a friendship. Clarifications can ease the guilt on your part, as well as help the other person gain some transparency in the situation. 

AS: No, I don’t think you’re being rude at all — it’s your call to decide how plugged in you want to be. It’s unfortunate, but everyone has come to expect immediate replies in this world of instant communication and gratification, and it’s up to each individual to set those boundaries for themselves. But I do think that letting your friends and acquaintances know, in some way, you’re going to be slow at responding to their messages may help ease the tension, and reduce the pressure on you too.


Written By The Swaddle Team


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