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?