My non-responsiveness to messages, e-mails and other forms of communication seems to have reached a new level. Or has anyone else received this warning from Facebook, saying that people “may be wondering why” I “haven’t responded to messages in a while”?
I could give all kinds of reasons, explaining that I was too busy because:
- I was reading a book.
- I was eating.
- I was looking for bears.
- I was sleeping.
- I was out running.
- I was on a long hike.
- I am writing a book.
- I didn’t have internet.
- I was in hand-to-hand combat with an assassin who was after my life.
- I am in the process of moving.
- I was on a romantic date.
- I lost my computer.
But I won’t.
Because it’s none of your business. I don’t owe an explanation to anyone about what I do with my time. It’s my life. Nobody is entitled to my time or attention.
Please don’t take it personally if I never reply to your e-mail! I don’t make a decision not to reply to you specifically. I receive so many messages every day that I wouldn’t even find the time to read them all without ruining my life. So, if I haven’t responded, chances are I haven’t even read your e-mail or message. Maybe I will. One day. When I’ll be sick and tied to a hospital bed. But actually, even then I hope that someone will bring me books which are more interesting than the 2,350th request for my opinion on a legal problem.
On the other hand, don’t give up hope. Sometimes I reply after months or years (some of you will be dead by the time you hear from me). I just don’t see the urgency in most of your communication, so don’t freak out if you haven’t heard from me by next morning. The only matters which are truly urgent are those that involve dying people (and I am not a doctor, so I can’t help) and ongoing revolutions (the latter are very interesting to me, so please put “ongoing revolution” in your subject line if you happen to be in the process of overthrowing your government).
I understand that it’s probably important to you what you e-mail about. But unless you have reason to assume that it’s more important to me than all the other exciting and rewarding things I could do with my life, don’t disturb. Thank you. If you think that what you have to say is of general importance, then write a book or a blog. This way, people can choose to read it or not.
Talking about books and blogs, maybe it will discourage you from e-mailing me if you know that I will publish some of the silliest or most annoying e-mails I receive. You don’t want to be among those, do you?
Now to the upside of this restrictive policy: If you do get a reply from me, you know that you are one of the lucky few.
I liked the time of letters. If someone had to get paper and ink and sit down for an hour and then buy stamps and take it to the post office, there was a natural barrier against spam and thoughtless communication. Maybe there should be a fee for each e-mail or message that people send, possibly with exceptions for pre-approved friends. See, these are the kind of good ideas when you don’t allow others to distract you. I am off to the Patent Office…