I know you sent me that text/voicemail/email/facebook message/instagram comment/smoke signal last week/month/year. I know I was supposed to respond. You and I both know that I did not. Here’s why:
1. I did respond. In my head. I crafted a witty and clever response that also managed to address all of your questions/comments and add a bit more about what’s going on with me. I went over it a few times to make sure it was awesome. I promised myself I would write it down and send it as soon as I wasn’t driving/dealing with a toddler/out for dinner/whatever. And then my brain told itself I’d already responded and it checked that item off my to-do list. If you asked me, I’d tell you that I did, in fact, respond. Seriously, I have science on my side here: this is really a thing.
2. I want to write a perfect, thoughtful, lengthy response, but I just can’t seem to find the time. Your email/message was so interesting and awesome that I feel you deserve the same back from me. I’m estimating it will take me about 30 minutes to respond in the manner in which you deserve. That means I just need 30 minutes of unscheduled time when I can sit down and respond to you. At my current pace, I’m guessing that will be in 2031.
3. I’m really busy. As hinted at above, I have a lot of shit going on. I know this is no excuse, and if you were really a priority I would find the time to respond. But here’s the thing about priorities: we usually have them all backwards. The immediate, day-to-day not-really-important crap is front and center in our heads and we feel we have to get it all done. The truly important stuff like staying connected with friends always falls by the wayside. I know it’s bull, but I do it. I’m sorry.
4. I hate talking on the phone. I hate those awkward pauses when you can’t see the other person so you don’t know why they paused. I hate when you both try to talk at once and you can’t hear each other and then you both pause and then you both try to talk again. I hate that moment when you need to end the conversation but there’s no good way to do it. So I promise I will call you back, but I need to be in a terrific mood so that all those things I hate about the phone don’t ruin our call. The next time a terrific mood and the free time to call you intersect, I promise I will. Maybe next month?
5. It got pushed down to the bottom of my inbox and I forgot. Here’s the thing about email: that inbox, with its 4,751 emails, is so overwhelming that I can usually only look at the first page, maybe even only the first 2-5 messages. Once it’s marked as “read” and it’s down towards the bottom of the page or – heaven forbid – onto the next page, it’s probably lost. I’m probably not going to respond to it. Or at least not until I have a burst of motivation and productivity and go through my entire inbox responding to all those old messages that I forgot about. So expect a response in about three months.
6. The little icon on my text messages/facebook messages/voicemails was no longer red, so I forgot. I open the message to get rid of that little icon because, come on!, it’s super annoying. But once the icon is gone, I forget about it. I look at the homescreen of my phone or the homepage of facebook and all is clear: there are no icons so that must mean I don’t have anything to respond to. There’s a little voice nagging at the back of my head that I’m forgetting something, but I look at that screen and its red-
blemish-icon-free face lulls me into a false sense of security.
7.The lure of cats/Buzzfeed/everything else on the internet is simply too great. Against all odds, I remember that I owe you an email/message/etc. I sit down on the couch, put up my feet, and open my computer. I’ll just check Facebook quick, I tell myself. Twenty minutes later I’m looking at a Buzzfeed list of the hottest Jewish guys in Hollywood or watching a video of a cat or a toddler doing something fabulous. And the fact that I owe you a response has completely slipped my mind. I know you’re more important than Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s adorable mismatched socks, I swear I really do know that. It’s just, I can’t seem to stop myself.
8. At this point I’m so stressed and guilty about not responding that I probably never will. There’s an optimal time in which to respond to a message. That time varies by medium – it’s pretty short for texts, there’s a bit more leeway for emails – but in any event it’s not too long. So once a couple weeks have gone by, I feel like such an asshole for not responding, and the thought of explaining my delay is so stressful, that I avoid even thinking about your message to save myself the pain. It will nag at the back of my mind and every time I think about it I’ll feel like a terrible person. But the guilt won’t spur me to action, it will just paralyze me. Yes, I realize this is immature and ridiculous. Yes, I do it anyway.
I really do care about you and I mean to respond. So please don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s me. But just in case you were worried, the following are NOT reasons I didn’t respond:
- I’m ignoring you
- I don’t like you
- I’m mad at you
- I thought your questions were dumb
- I think you’re dumb
Well, okay, maybe that’s true some of the time. But not about you. Never about you!