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.