People Skills

Comment Awaiting Reply

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I’m really bad about replying to people online. I’ll be moseying along, happily content within my little computer-generated world, and suddenly, I’ll get a notification! Someone acknowledged my existence! I’ll look at the message, smile, agree, or look slightly perplexed, and then I’ll forget to reply.

That’s just what I do.

It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s just… notifications are so impersonal. When people hold face-to-face conversations, a constant exchange is going on. A comment on a blog or Facebook status doesn’t inherently leave the field open for response. When we speak to each other with our mouths, our ears are engaged and our eyes are watching body movement and signals. When we leave messages online, thought by our heads, typed by our hands, and conveyed by a little block of text, they lose all of the subtleties of normal conversation. Maybe that’s why I like emoticons so much…

Now, I’m bad enough when it comes to starting normal conversation. I’m just not that talkative of a person. I don’t mind talking to people, but I usually don’t initiate spontaneous discussions, and I am positively not one of those people who needs to talk just to think. I make random noises, and sing, and hum… and stuff… but I don’t talk a lot.

But back to replying.

Someone will comment on a picture or status (or blog post) and say something like “That’s so true. I LOL’d when I read that.” I’ll read the comment, be happy that I made that person happy, and then I’ll move on with life. End of conversation. It’s rather sad, isn’t it? 

Unfortunately, I tend to do the same thing with longer comments. “I read your post and that made me think of this one time when I was with this one person and this one thing happened and my cat did something else while I was spinning a top on a table and this is a really long pointless series of run-ons design merely for the sake of giving an example of a really long and pointless comment. I like trains….” This is the point at which I am either interested or my eyes start glazing over and I get distracted by something shiny. If it’s an interesting, thought-provoking comment, I’ll need to think about my reply. So I tend to forget to reply. If it’s a witty, humorous comment, I’ll need to come up with the perfect comeback. That usually takes a few years. If it’s a drab, boring story about how the author got his or her first desk lamp, I’ll probably not even think about replying.

So, what to do? I think I’m going to make a concerted effort to be more responsive. Maybe I’ll even type a full-fledged response someday. First, though, I’d better take care of those twenty-something drafts in my WordPress “posts” folder…

~ XK