I know I come across as cold when I tell people I really don’t want to be bothered, but I believe there’s a time and a place for everything. If we’re having a conversation in email and I stop responding, the right thing to do is not ask on Twitter why I haven’t replied. Sure, ask if I got the email, but if you say “I sent you two emails on 10/8 and you haven’t replied.” and those two emails were totally unsolicited, then perhaps the answer is “I don’t care enough to reply right now.”
Because I don’t reply to everyone. I just can’t. If it makes me a cold and heartless person to be fond of my personal life, my private life, and my free time, well, suck it up. You’re not as important to me as my family. If you are family and I’ve not replied, I’m probably still thinking of an answer. Not everything is a fast reply, y’know.
But I do add people to block lists fairly quickly if I see behavior that annoys me. If you’ve tweeted a bunch of people the same thing, even if it’s a legit question, I’m going to ignore you because you clearly feel you’re more important than anyone else. Yes, that’s what that behavior looks like, folks. If you email me out of the blue with a complicated question, I’m probably going to ignore you because I’m not a consultant for hire.
My basic thought is that if you don’t want to be ignored, you have to remember that you’re asking a person, a real person with a real life and a family, a favor. You have to remember that you are not going to be their ultimate priority most of the time (if any). And you have to respect that choice. Even if you were paying me, there’s a time when I’m allowed and encouraged to walk away from the computer for days at a time and do something else.
I know we’re all into the ‘now now now’ world, but when you act like that to me I’m probably about this close to ignoring you. I’m trying really hard not to be that kind of person. I try to be patient in line, patient when waiting for service, understanding when people have problems with computers or finding a file. All of those little things happen to me, and I try to respect them and treat them the way I want to be treated.
I also try to respect the people who ask me for favors, but a lot of the time it’s very clear you never read my contact page where it warns you I probably ignore you. Or that if you’re mad I’m not replying ‘fast enough’ then you should “shut up and sit on your hands for a while” because seriously. That right there is the epitome of disrespect online.
So hey, try it out. Try thinking that you’re not the centre of the universe for a couple hours on Twitter and on forums and on email, and remember the other person has things too. It’ll change your expectations into something more realistic.
And say thank you. It goes a long way.