Seán Moncrieff: I bore the anger out of people

We could be mortally offending people we like without even realising it

“On Outlook Messenger there is a function where the sender can see if the sendee has read their communication. If you read, but don’t reply, they know it.”

“On Outlook Messenger there is a function where the sender can see if the sendee has read their communication. If you read, but don’t reply, they know it.”

 

My phone has this quirk where, if I get a text, the text app (or whatever it’s called), doesn’t open up or goes black or I have to go into another app first and then go back to see the text.

It’s such a regular hassle that I often don’t bother looking. Or I look much later on and by then it’s far too late to reply with a LOL or a smiley face or whatever validation the texter was looking for.

But not replying at all can be a tremendous digital-age faux pas.

It can cause utter fury: the Irish kind of fury where the furious person never mentions their anger until months later when they’ve had a few drinks and the feeling has completely passed. Or so they tell you.

I too have suffered etiquette violations. Mostly on email

My malfunctioning phone provides some mitigation when the subject eventually comes up, (yes, it has happened more than once), and has prompted the once-angry people to offer two (to my mind) ridiculous suggestions. One: you should have told me about the wonky phone.

Why? It is a minor fact of my life, and so tedious that I’m almost ashamed of it. Two: you should get your phone fixed.

This is usually said to me in a slightly-too-loud voice, indicating that the anger hasn’t completely gone away. Which is why I don’t point out to them that pointing out the obvious to me isn’t that helpful: phone fixing isn’t cheap.

Instead I embark on a long description of my phone plan and how my promised upgrade wasn’t really an upgrade but a not-so-cunning ploy to get me to buy a new phone.

I bore the anger out of them.

Tricky protocols

But the phone isn’t the point. It’s my attitude towards digital messages. If someone I knew walked up to me on the street and said “Sean! Have a look at my meme!” I’d stop and look at their meme.

It would be rude not to. And I’d have some sort of smiley-nod reaction to the meme, even if I thought it was utter rubbish.

But if they send me the meme, I don’t feel the need to immediately reply or, if I’ve nothing to say about it, reply at all. The protocols are tricky and varied.

On Outlook Messenger there is a function where the sender can see if the sendee has read their communication.

If you read, but don’t reply, they know it. This is known as “leaving someone seen”  and is regarded as the height of disrespect, particularly by young people.

Daily, we could be mortally offending people we like without even realising it

I know this because various children have become enraged with me for doing it.

Once they had explained to me what it was.

But I too have suffered etiquette violations. Mostly on email. There’s nothing more frustrating than a reply that comes two days later, which opens with the pro-forma “Sorry! Was up to my neck!” 

Really? You were too busy to tap on a keyboard for a few seconds? Or were you actually up to your neck in quick-drying concrete and unable to move?

In this context, the tardy email and the “up to my neck”  excuse means one of two things. One: you’re not important enough for me to answer promptly. Two: I forgot.

It’s usually the latter, I suspect. Well, it is for me when I use that excuse.

Not only is there no universally accepted set of rules for these kinds of communication, but it also seems to vary between texts and emails and social media nonsense.

It seems to vary from person to person. Daily, we could be mortally offending people we like without even realising it. But we simply can’t answer all of it, promptly or otherwise. It would take up far too much time: time that can be far better spent ignoring real people in the real world.

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