I Never Need To Know When A Message Is Read

On many messaging platforms (e.g.: texts), certain items will show as “read” once the other party has clicked on them.

I am not a fan of that feature.

As reasonable and as understanding as I try to be, if I see someone has read something I’ve sent some time ago and has yet to respond, it quietly gnaws at me.

Believe me, I very much understand there being entirely normal circumstances for this happening. Someone reads a message when they only have a moment at work. Someone accidentally clicks on something when they don’t have time to focus on it. Someone reads the message but needs time to process their response.

While I logically know all that to be true, my brain automatically thinks the worst and worries about it. Illogical, but it does occasionally happen.

What it boils down to are expectations and/or hopes. If I see someone has read something I’ve written, I get excited about a response. But I don’t like that. Expectations are often super crappy things for both sides.

Allow me to give an example.

I have a friend who I used to write back and forth with on a nearly daily basis. Over time, we’ve relaxed that schedule to writing every few months or so. Honestly? As much as I love our correspondence, I totally get that he is busy and that I am often weird about responding to personal things in a timely fashion (how’s that for hypocritical in the overall scheme of this topic?). If I knew when he read a message I’d sent, I’d unintentionally start wondering when he would write back.

That’s not how I want to be.

I’d much prefer things the way they are: he writes when he writes and I write when I write and any time I see an email pop up in my inbox, it delights me. No strings attached.

Recently I made a deliberate choice to taper off my recreational use of Facebook. That was the “right” choice for me. I felt like I needed a great big mental tidy, and, less than a week since I set my personal page aside, I’m already feeling refreshed.


I’ve continued to post the links to the pieces I write (here on my site) to my Facebook writing page. When I do that, I keep Facebook open for a while so I can respond to any comments as they are posted.

But, when I do that, I tend to respond to Facebook messages while I’m at it. Sometimes I see that a message I sent to someone quite a while ago was read, but never responded to. Then I start wondering why. I’m all too aware that the reason (if there is one) is likely innocuous, but I still wonder, and that wondering pokes me in my squishy feelings.

The larger thought is, so much now is immediate. We can find almost any bit of information we need or want at a moment’s notice. We can reach people across the world instantly. I can take a photo of our pup and send it to someone across the country and they are literally seeing what I just saw only moments before.

I don’t need everything right now, even if I momentarily think I do.

As much as I like to correspond with people, there are times when I don’t respond to messages right away. Heck, I’ve been going through my email inbox this week, and I discovered personal emails I never responded to from two years ago.

That’s pretty ridiculous.

Being ignored is one of my ultimate pet peeves, and I’d hate to think that anyone who took the time to email me thought I was deliberately ignoring them. But I look at my lack of timely responses and I become acutely aware of my own shortcomings in that area.

I’ve been trying to exercise more patience lately, and seeing when something I’ve sent has been read, but not responded to, puts that patience to the test. It’s a small thing, but it reminds me to take a step back and breathe. It could be something. It could be nothing. It’s far more often the latter than the former. And reminding myself to practice patience can only be a positive.

And I’m all for that.

Categories: musings

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8 replies »

  1. I’m not a fan of the “read” feature either, for two reasons.

    One, because I always feel that it will inspire this exact reaction in people – the idea that I’m deliberately ignoring them, which is almost NEVER true. I often check a message as soon as I get it, even if I don’t have time to stop what I’m doing and write a response, and it eats at me knowing that they know I saw it, and what if they think I’m being a jerk, even though I’m just at work or busy at the moment and can’t stop right then and there? I don’t want to be a jerk!

    The other reason is… well, because sometimes, as selfish as it is, sometimes I get messages from people that I just flat out don’t want to talk to. It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then someone will contact me and I really just don’t want to deal with them. The “read” marker makes it impossible for new to say “oh hey, sorry, I didn’t see your message” later.

    Then again, I don’t want people I DO want to talk to thinking that they’re the person that I actually AM ignoring, because chances are they aren’t, but that damn “read” just makes everything needlessly complicated. I don’t like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • To be fair, I did explain that I’m all too aware people aren’t necessarily ignoring someone if they haven’t responded. But I can see how it would be an illogical fear of some.

      I don’t think anyone could accuse you of being a jerk!

      I very much understand that feeling, too. I used to have a neighbor that would fling his door open each time I came home or left or did anything. He was always full of questions about where I went or what I did and where I was going. The “read” feature reminds me of him sometimes. Like, what if I just want to come and go in peace? What if I just want to read this message and process and write back after I’ve had time to think about it? Knowing that it shows as “read” puts the expectations on immediately.

      It definitely complicates things. I wish I could just turn it off.


  2. Another interesting, insightful, & well-timed blog from Rebekah. :) I share Brad’s sentiments 100%. A lot of times, we only have a few minutes to “kill” so we just glance at our messages. Often, we respond although it maybe later that day or a few days later. That’s understandable! It’s like you said Rebekah, people are busy! Those that will respond have something worth waiting to reply to (usually). Other times, they just might make a general comment or observation.That’s good too! Like Brad, I don’t like receiving “random” messages. That’s why the “read” marker stays as is for me on my social platforms. You either have aanother to say; or just don’t want to “interact” with that person. Great thought provoking blog! I see we’re on a similar page when it comes to that pesky “read” marker. Just my two cents, ciao!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww, thank you Richard! And it sounds like we definitely have similar beliefs on that pesky “read” feature. Sometimes I feel like technology gives us a little too much. This is one of those topics for me. :)


  3. Yes, I dislike this feature. It feels almost like a violation of my privacy(or the other person’s privacy). It also happens a lot to me, as I read while I’m eating or something like and I just want to respond later when i’m less busy. My friend sometimes joke when I don’t respond sending a “YOU READ IT AND DIDN’T RESPOND!”…but I bet it’s something a lot of people takes really serious. I obsessed over this when it was first implemented in whatsapp(instant message app) but I stopped later, now I just avoid looking at it to be honest…it’s for the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed! Like, I understand when someone sends something super important through certified mail. That makes sense. But for a text or a message, it seems unnecessary.


  4. I’m awkward, so I embrace prolonged periods of silence like they were hugs :) And to some extent, that has really helped me out when receiving texts or various PMs from people. I simply walk away and “do my thang.”
    I think you’ve come upon an interesting point about humanity in general: our need for discussion and interaction with others. To that point, I think you’ve also brought to light its influence on our society using assets that are (supposedly) meant to enhance our lives through instantaneous information.
    That notification feature also annoys me, primarily because I don’t care, but my A.D.D. forces me to look because… well I’m not sure why (hahaha!!). So no matter what, I’m forced to feel a way I don’t want to feel, and I have no idea how to turn that feature off! lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh man, I am awkward, too. I try not to be but…yeah. I can empathize.

      Indeed! It’s kind of a no-win feature. Also a “little good can come of it” feature. I really wish I could turn it off on everything, too!


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