Reasons I have not replied to your message

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

We live in anxious times, soundtracked by the constant, incessant ping of phones and laptops. Notifications are everywhere, bleeping and flashing and demanding a response. So how do we deal with it? Some people probably just switch their phones off or put them in a different room. People like me, though, write blog posts trying to explain ourselves to others in a desperate attempt to either make them forgive me or make them leave me alone. So with good and bad, selfish and silly and paranoid and everything in between, here are a few reasons I have not replied to your message.

  • My mentions have exploded because I asked a vaguely engaging question
  • I am in the bath
  • I am asleep
  • I am eating a cake
  • My phone screen is cracked and that makes it tricky for me to type the letter ‘j’ and I can only think of things to say back to you that include words like ‘jealous’ or ‘justifiably’
  • I have replied to your question in a tweet I sent as part of the thread
  • You are the five thousandth person to reply to the first tweet in the thread asking me the same question, which is why I turned that one tweet into a thread in the first place
  • I checked your profile and saw that you are a Nazi/Brexiteer/misogynist/Daily Mail columnist
  • You have a frog emoji in your username and although your profile is not overtly Nazi, I am nervous that the frog means something and so I am reluctant to engage
  • I am getting laid
  • I asked a jokey question and you have hit me with an answer which is disturbing or horrible, and now I have to get off Twitter and remind myself that I should never try and use this anxiety-generator to have fun any more
  • You said something sad and I have spent five minutes trying to work out how to respond with the correct degree of sympathy/kindness. After much soul-searching I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m marginally more afraid of upsetting you with a word of comfort that turns out to be monstrously ill-judged than I am of offending you by just not responding
  • I have muted you because you used to copy me in on literally any and all of your tweets that involved sex in some way, and it was doing my head in
  • You’re replying to a poll and the answer is within the poll, so please just click the relevant poll button, yeah? Don’t worry, I’m not writing a thesis off the back of it. No one will arrest you for not telling every scrap and tittle of the truth
  • You are asking me questions just because you’re curious to know what I think, which is very flattering but all I see here is more admin and the potential for further failure
  • Your message is 3,000 words long and ditto
  • You referred to me as ‘love’, ‘babe’ or similar
  • I’m too flattered by a nice thing you said, and instead of conjuring appropriate words of thanks I am weeping softly into a bag of peanut M&Ms
  • You have replied to my latest blog post with a long email/DM opening up to me, like I am one of your close friends. I am honoured that you would trust me with your thoughts, but I am not your friend and I don’t know you, and I can’t give you the therapy/reassurance/love you need right now – I’m barely treading water myself
  • I want to give your message the time and attention it deserves, so I have placed it in a folder marked ‘interesting/important’ where it will languish for weeks until one day I get a stabbing feeling in my chest as I realise what I’ve done, and then send a panicked/hurried two-liner steeped in flagellation and overzealous apologies for the delay in getting back to you
  • You have asked me if I agree with you, on a subject where either I disagree with you or I disagree with the way you’re presenting your arguments, and in order to reply with honesty I’d have to potentially start a conflict. I am afraid of conflict, and I do not want you to be angry with me
  • You asked a question that I can’t answer without breaching someone else’s confidentiality/trust, but if I say that then it will only make you more curious about what the answer is so to avoid this whole palaver I’m going to pretend that I have turned off my phone
  • Sometimes I actually do turn off my phone, such as when I am in the cinema or having sex in a position where it’s not feasible to tweet with my free hand
  • You are a nice person, who I like, but you have asked me to do something that is wildly outside my comfort zone or will take up a lot of time (come for beers with you, watch a 45 minute YouTube video you made, support your favourite charity which nevertheless is a charity I don’t personally want to support, etc) and I find silence easier than saying flat-out ‘no’
  • I’m on the tube
  • I’m pretending to be on the tube
  • Every morning I awaken to two phones with a cascade of notifications, nearly all of which require some kind of response: retweet, like, comment, reply. I plough through them while the kettle is boiling, scroll through and fav some more as I sip my morning coffee. My heart seems to beat faster as the day goes on, as if it’s urging me to do more every minute – retweet, reply, comment. DM. By lunchtime I have done less than half of what I need, and my bills are here and want paying but I’ll just reply to a few more people because it would be rude not to, then I’ll get on with the work that makes the money. And nearly every day I begin with optimism: this day, TODAY will be the day I finally get to the end of my to-do list. I will write that article, publish those blogs, record that audio porn, message all the people who’ve said hello today, email all the PRs and check in with all my friends. TODAY I will do it. All I need is a quiet inbox, and I can make this miracle happen. Then I drift onto Twitter to share something, or reply to a couple of lovely folks, hit ‘publish’ or send some emails and… I know. I shouldn’t. Everything I sow sprouts more tasks and to-dos and messages and thoughts and I realise that this dream I have is impossible. The bad messages get in the way of the good, and the good get in the way of the work, and all of it is my fault for sowing all these seeds in the first place. Reasons I’ve not replied to your message:
  • I’m on deadline
  • I’m out of words
  • I’m off my face
  • I’m knackered

 

If you’ve sent me a nice message and I have not replied yet: I’m sorry. – GOTN x

6 Comments

  • Simon Jenkins says:

    I think I’ll bookmark this post. There’s a lot of good excuses I can use in the future. I also nodded my head on several of them!

  • 🐸Eusa🐸 says:

    Sorry Babe.

  • David says:

    With over 18k followers it always amazes me if you reply/like/RT to anything I have to say. As you mentioned, if you’ve posted anything I don’t want to read.. I don’t have to read it! Carry on the god work

  • P says:

    You don’t need to explain yourself to any one.
    You already give so much time, thought, effort and life to something that is free to access and enjoyed by so many.
    Try to remember that, when the guilt monster appears in your head again. Thank you GOTN for all the free entertainment, that must now be in the form of hundreds of hours of reading.

  • Audren Le Rioual says:

    This is just a nice message. We the undersigned just love what you do and have no intentions of harassing you away from whatever you’d rather be doing. No reply expected.

    Signed:
    The silent (and vast) majority of your readers.

  • Mo says:

    I should’ve read this before sending a “also, how the fuck are you? x” then, eh? =)

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