How often do you check your phone messages?

I believe I am pretty far from being a device addict, and I largely dislike social media (don’t use Twitter and very seldom update my Facebook feed or read anyone else’s). But I do use my smartphone to communicate instant messages to my friends and family fairly frequently. This is never idle chitchat, but usually asking an important question or making some kind of request, i.e. inviting a child’s friend over for a playdate, asking about the health of a mutual friend, asking a question about kids’ school, etc. This is though regular text, iMessage, or WhatsApp.

So I am frequently surprised and frustrated when my texts go unanswered for several hours. And for those people who had their read notification on, I can see that some of these messages aren’t even read for an hour or more.

Am I expecting too much, or are my friends unusual or inconsiderate? As I said, I don’t consider myself obsessive, but I always have my ringer on and if I hear a message arrive, I will pick up my phone almost immediately unless I am doing something that prohibits that. Even then, I will make a mental note to check the message at the earliest available moment, usually within minutes. And if I don’t know of any new message, I will still check my phone pretty frequently, at least once an hour. If someone is asking me something that needs a response (like the examples I gave), I do my best to respond immediately, even if it is to say that I am busy or that I need to check and will get back to them later. That just seems like common courtesy.

Yesterday around 5 PM I sent a text to a friend asking her what time she is planning to come over today to visit, explaining that I needed to know the time as we all normally have our weekly call with my mother in the US in the afternoon (6-hour time difference, so having a fixed time is very important). No response. Sent a reminder at 8 PM explaining that I needed to know so that I could warn my mother about a possible time change that evening before I went to bed. No response. Then at 11 PM I couldn’t wait any longer, so told my friend a specific time to come that would not require a change to the call with my mother. This morning I saw a response from her after midnight apologizing for the delay, saying that she was having dinner at a friend’s house all evening.

I appreciate the acknowledgement and attempt to explain the delay, but is this normal behavior? When I am at dinner parties, I still hear notifications on my phone and will respond to messages in a timely way. It just takes a few seconds to send a 5-word response. This is just the most recent example, but this happens fairly often in my circle of friends. In case it is relevant, my friends are all 40-something professionals with modern smartphones.

What do you think?

The thing that is so nice about texts and emails is that they do NOT require an immediate answer. You can let them sit until you have time/place to focus. If something requires an urgent or time sensitive answer I call (unless I know that the person prefers email or hates calls but is obsessive about texts)

For my situation, I do have my phone on me at work but it’s silenced and in my back pocket, mostly. I may or may not realize I’ve had a text, depending on how busy we are. Calls I generally notice because of the vibrate, but I may or may no answer right away. That’s when I hope the caller leaves a voicemail so I know just how urgent the matter is (and who it is, if you aren’t in my contacts list).

I don’t think your situation with your friend is all that unusual or rude.

Yeah, you’re a bit there. I see messages all the time, but I’m doing stuff. Christ sakes, I’ll get back to you on my time.

When I’m at dinner with friends, I’m at dinner with friends. Phone is off and in a jacket pocket hanging up somewhere.

My phone is not the boss of me.

Yes, completely normal behaviour in my opinion.

This, times a million.

Once a week unless I’m specifically expecting one. I’m email-based for the most part and texting me is not a good way to reach me.

Constantly, I have my phone with me in bed and so engage with it almost every moment I’m awake.

But I don’t always respond l immediately. If it’s a stupid question or someone has been drinking and is now crying in their beer over an ex, it’ll wait.

When I was actually doing things pre Covid and someone was being very chatty over text, I would let them know I was doing dinner and drinks and I’ll text in the AM

Yes, completely normal. Some people consider it to be polite to focus their attention on the people they’re actually with and keep their devices in their pockets, especially at the dinner table.

I usually leave my phone sitting around in my kitchen. Often I leave it there when I go out. If I am not meeting anyone, I have no expectation that I may need to message someone. So I may only look at it a couple of times a day. Even when I have my phone with me, I often don’t answer calls if I am doing something and can’t think of any compelling reason to talk to whoever may be ringing me.

Yes, you definitely are expecting too much. Many people have situations where they go many hours at a time without checking phone messages, including while they are asleep (and some people do nap or sleep during the day), while they are at work, or while they are spending quality time with another person.

I hardly ever have my ringer on. Most of the texts I get do not require an immediate response, or even necessarily a response at all.

I’m retired. The only time I have my phone with me is if I go somewhere and even that is not a guarantee. It’s not unusual to find myself away from home without my phone. If someone needs to contact me, call my home phone. I have 6 of them spread out around the house.

My phone is in reach probably 24/7, I don’t go anywhere without it because it’s way more than just a phone, and any notification I get also pings my watch so I get it immediately. That does not mean I want to or will respond right away. If I am doing something else you’ll just have to wait.

This warmed my heart. I love the idea of a forty-something ignoring their phone for an entire evening, because they’re with friends.

I can see how it’d be frustrating on the rare cases where you need an answer right NOW!.. but for me, it’s a good reminder that people have their own lives. Especially with our kids, it’s good to remember I’m not the center of their world. That’s kind of liberating… they’re doing fine without me!

I agree with all the above - your friend’s behavior was normal, and it isn’t reasonable to expect immediate answers when you send a text. If the timing of your friend’s visit was extremely important due to a regularly scheduled call with your mother, it would have been smart to resolve that earlier rather than waiting until 5pm the day before to bring it up.

I often do respond to messages quickly, and the messages I send often get an immediate response as well. But not always, and I don’t feel bad if it takes me a while or takes the person I messaged a while. I might be out for a run, in a meeting, driving, talking to a friend, working on an important document, napping, or any number of activities that don’t involve hovering over my phone and responding immediately.

I’m old enough to remember when we weren’t tethered by our devices to the digital universe. On the whole, I appreciate the new technology and feel the advantages outweigh the disadvantages by a considerable amount. Still, I’m sometimes wistful for the perspective we had before the internet and digital devices consumed us.

This phrase right here is saying that you think you are the most important person in this situation, not the people who invited your friend into their home and made dinner for them.

Your ranking of social priorities is that anyone who has your friend’s phone number and texts her, anyone with her number, is automatically more important than her hosts who have invited her into their home to share a meal and companionship.

Sorry, I don’t agree with your social priorities. I think it’s rude to treat your phone as more important than your host.

Gahhh, I feel like I’m in a thread with my mom…

You’re not my mom, are you, OP? Naaah, because she’d never make messageboard posts without calling for tech support (=me).

The first two minutes of any call from her goes something like this:

Where ARRRRE you? (I’m in… wait, why is that any business of yours?)
I called four times… (Well, didn’t see those…)
I left twooo messages! (Oh, wait, you called that old landline?)
And I kept thinking maybe you’d had an accident. (Whaaa…?)
Or maybe you were gone… (Good guess! We have a winner.)
Or… ::sigh::, you were just too busy to chat with your aged mother… (THAT is actually a good bet. Go with that. Every time.)

If I am not on call, I generally do not answer unexpected phone messages very quickly. This is my nature. But it also reflects the frequency of unsolicited junk messaging.

I’m with the consensus - completely normal. I have my cell on me much of the time at work (but I put it down a lot and wander away), while traveling somewhere and if I’m explicitly expecting a call/message. Otherwise, nope. If I’m off work and hanging around the house most of the day I pay zero attention to it. I also allow no phone anywhere near my bedroom. I’ve responded to texts literally a day later.

Hard to get a hold of during emergencies? You bet. I’m comfortable with that antisocial sacrifice. You want me available 24/7 you better be paying me standby :slight_smile:.

I’m not really a luddite. I think my smartphone is an awesome and very useful little device and is indeed convenient to be able to contact people just about anywhere and anytime. But a tiny bit of me is slightly nostalgic for my childhood when even answering machines didn’t exist :smile:.

Yes, it’s normal.

What might be slightly different for you is that you say you don’t use instant messages for chit-chat, and you dislike social media. So for you, when an alert goes off, it’s something you need to respond to. For a lot of people, it could just be “LOL.”

So if you hear an alert while you’re out with friends, you can pull out your phone and respond, knowing it won’t happen often and you’re not being rude. For people who use social media or messaging apps more than you do, it’s better to just ignore the notifications (which they probably have set to silent anyway) if they’re out and being sociable.

It’s extremely unusual for me to respond to a message during my working hours (which aren’t 9-5), and the same when I’m out with friends. I respond in the between-times, replying to multiple people on different messages in the same time period no matter when they actually sent the message.

Plus occasionally people see a message, mean to respond, and genuinely forget. Giving them a nudge isn’t rude, depending on how you phrase it.