If people showed up on your doorstep whenever they thought of you, would you feel obligated to open the door to them? Or would you politely ask them to come back later? What if there were dozens of people doing this, day in, day out?
You’d stop answering the door unless you had the energy, right? You wouldn’t rush to the door all day, just because you heard the doorbell.
So why do we feel like the existence of a messaging system on social media somehow means we must make ourselves available to it? Who asked us whether we WANTED to be available? I don’t remember ever signing up to being emotionally and mentally available just because I enjoyed sharing a stupid cat video! Yes, I want to stay connected with your existence through a friend request, Jane, but no, I don’t want to have to cater to your unaddressed emotional issues. Yes, I want to be in touch with a lot of you wonderful people — but not at the cost of my mental peace.
We must stop accepting that an *existence* of a messaging system somehow means an obligation to cater to the unwritten rules that we have created as a community. Yes, every space has its culture, but not adhering to internet culture only makes you lame in the eyes of people with the emotional intelligence of a leftover sandwich, so what are you really losing out on?
I write this today because Facebook keeps reminding me that I’ve been promising a message catch-up SINCE 2010 and I’m quite honestly pretty tired of carrying a burden of guilt that isn’t necessary. As a result, I’ve been less of a friend to the people I care about — lumping their correspondence in with the guilt-inducing pile of steadily growing messages by people who feel entitled to my attention and energy.
In my entire friendship history, my most genuine friends loved me both when I could and when I couldn’t reply. And my closest friends? They loved me when I didn’t *want* to.
Yes. That is an option. Not wanting to open the door because you quite frankly can’t be arsed to communicate with another human being today — that is an option that you have the right to use. No is a full sentence, and we must stop adding reasons and excuses and lies and softeners in order to avoid upsetting others. We must stop carrying guilt that people do not deserve. Those who actually matter don’t mind, and vice versa — so here it is: your permission slip.
Have you ever considered only checking social media messages once a week? Once a month? Go ahead and do that. Have you considered only replying to the people that you feel good about, and literally not opening the door to people you don’t want in your home? Makes sense. Is your mental health fragile, and would you prefer to create a cocoon that allows you to be at your fullest when you do message people? THIS IS YOUR RIGHT.
“But what about….????”
Work-related conversations that are worth your time will use Google or ask for your email address, and close friends will have your number. Now what?
Of course I’m aware that you are part of society — I’m not suggesting you turn into an awful person who is rude to everyone. I’d like to trust that anyone who has actually read this far and enjoys my content, is also someone who has self-awareness and morals! Of course it’s important to consider other people’s feelings. But in this online world where we are suddenly “connected” to someone with one click, how many people can we afford to consider before we completely lose ourselves in the process?
I say this as the person who feels GUILTY for blocking and muting persistent people who have proven themselves self-absorbed and ingenuine — and if I’m doing it, then I know you might be, too. If I, Ms Piscean Softie of Softeria, can express this, see this as the gust of wind that pushes you to choose yourself over the pressures of social media.
Every message sent out of obligation is taking away from the activities and people that make you feel seen and safe. Every hour that goes to absorption of the uninvited is one less hour of anything you want to invite more of into your life. Your home is sacred — and since the only real home you have is the one that lets you look at the world — so let’s treat it that way.
You didn’t sign up for a pager with 24h availability, so why live like you did?