Left unread and without response: The desire to be less reliable

Lately I’ve found myself wondering what it would be like to be one of those people that takes days to respond to a message, to call a friend back. It must be, how shall I put it, blissful? To not be bothered by new notifications, to see a new Facebook message and not wonder what it says, to not give the other person the satisfaction of your little face bouncing down the bottom of the screen, indicating a message has been seen.

I am definitely not one of these people. I’m the type that needs to read a new message straightaway and see what the fuss is. If someone sends me a message, you can guarantee I’ll respond to it in a timely fashion. Even if I make the decision to respond later, I’ll be thinking about that message and what I’m going to write back. Heck, I’ll even draft a response in my notes app if it’s warranted.

Perhaps it’s the fact that messages from friends do phase me. They fill me up and let me know that people are thinking of me, even if it’s a meaningless update in a large group chat. I’m usually the one to initiate conversations with people around me, so it’s always a thrill when the tables are turned.

Now, look, I get it. Sometimes people are busy, they’ve got other things going on, it’s nothing personal – I know all of this. The important distinction is that I don’t necessarily care if someone takes a while to respond, I just wish I could be more like that. But how do I get there?

I’ve tried various methods, and removing notifications on my apps has helped to some degree. No longer am I notified if I’ve received a Facebook or WhatsApp message, I have to open the app to find out if any are waiting for me. Though, having my fitness watch give me text notifications isn’t helping. I’ll need to fix that.

Spending less time on my phone is a perpetual quest of mine, along with about half of the world it seems. Sometimes watching an entire TV episode without checking it feels like a form of meditation, honestly.

But back to the reliability part. Maybe having my phone handy and responding to messages when I get them is just an extension of my personality. I am a reliable person and I’m always there for people. But maybe there’s a lesson in being there for myself, first and foremost. The non-emergency messages from friends can wait, just another few hours.

As is usually the case, my partner subsided my concerns about my over-reliability by saying, “Well, maybe there’s people out there wishing they could be more like you, more reliable, try not to worry so much.” He’s probably right.

Does anyone else feel this way? How do you prioritise yourself and not messages waiting for you?


Photo by John Tuesday on Unsplash

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