Stop shaming people for not immediately responding

Respecting people’s boundaries is more important than a response.
Illustration: Rigby Guerrero · The Sentry

stop expecting everyone to drop everything for emails

Nowadays, 99% of the world’s communication is contained to cell phones. All day, buzz buzz buzz: emails, texts, phone calls, Zoom calls. Despite a global pandemic, the world is more connected than ever with the rise of technology. But, always being online doesn’t mean always being available.
It is ridiculously overwhelming to be bombarded by texts and emails throughout the day. Even on “Do Not Disturb” mode (arguably the most genius invention, by the way), just looking at the notifications screen can be exhausting. Waiting more than a few hours to respond can elicit even more messages. “Did you see my last message?” they ask, as if a response is necessary within hours or else the world will end.

It won’t. Maybe for other reasons it will, but not because someone’s response wasn’t fast enough. Unless it’s an absolute emergency, there is virtually no need to panic because someone isn’t responding quickly. Maybe they’re in the shower. Maybe they’re busy with another task. Maybe they just need a minute away from the current chaos that envelopes every freaking corner of the world.

According to data from Global WorkPlace Analytics, 56% of the working population hold jobs that allow them to work from home. Over the last several months, many jobs and education programs have shifted to online. So now, a lot of people are more connected to their laptops and phones than ever, relying on them entirely for both work and personal time. So yes, people will likely read, or at least see, emails and texts and DMs all day. But give each other a break! Just because someone sees a message, or just because it’s been a few hours, or just because they started typing and stopped, does not give anyone the right to get upset. People have lives; responding to a text or email isn’t always the top priority.

Right now, boundaries are more important than ever. Simultaneously living and working at home blurs such a vital boundary. Being able to work whenever may be great, but being asked to work whenever is not. Expecting people, especially work colleagues, to always be on the lookout for emails now that they’re working from home is freaking ridiculous. But, the idea of boundaries isn’t confined to the work/leisure relationship. No, personal relationships require healthy boundaries just as much.
Just because a friend doesn’t respond immediately doesn’t mean the relationship is over; it means they needed some space. It’s not disrespectful, it’s not personal, it’s not harmful. People are coping with unprecedented challenges; let them live.

The world has become less patient over the years. With the rise of technology, people expect fast responses, and they expect the world at their fingertips. Food delivery? Fast. News? Fast. Latest Tweet from Chrissy Teigen? Fast. But, that speed just cannot translate to real life or real relationships. People are busy. People have needs outside of whatever tasks or information or questions are waiting in their inboxes.

Take a chill pill, and respect people’s boundaries.

This is a selection of the Sept. 30 issue. To view the full issue, visit:

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