Social Media Has Created an Instant Reply Entitlement
I’ve run into this more often than not lately, this ‘immediate reply’ entitlement so many people have adopted.
As you probably know, older folks and technology don’t mix so well, but it’s usually kinda funny. –I’m looking at you Janice, with your need to sign every-single-messenger chat bubble with your name, like I don’t already know its you.
That said, it’s actually not the older folks I’ve found have this instant-reply condition. It’s people my own age. Millennials in their twenties and thirties. -I don’t talk to children … I can’t speak to those little monsters.
Now, I’ve only come across this phenomenon lately, probably because I have always kept my phone close at hand in an attempt to always be available in case I’m needed. A habit a developed when I lived at home as a caretaker. A habit that had me around in time to rebuild a client’s home page on their website in the middle of the night after she accidentally deleted it and had a product launch the next day. Phew.
I can’t always be available at the drop of a hat though.
Lately however, in just the last few months I have started turning off my phone when I’m busy. When I’m writing, doing client work, reading, sleeping … the phone goes off along with all of its message notifications.
The difference has been bittersweet. I enjoy the peacefulness and the ability to get things done without being bothered every five minutes, but it has also brought out an ugly side of people I hadn’t encountered yet -and we all know that people have many sides of ugly …
Now, for me, I am fully aware that people are busy and don’t live on their phones all of the time. If I message someone and they don’t message back immediately do you know what I do? Nothing. Because they’ll get back to me when they can. I kind of assumed most people were the same, and I know many of you are, but too many of you aren’t.
In the last few months I have been yelled at, spammed, threatened, demeaned and just downright disrespected for the mere crime of not answering my messages as soon as they arrive.
The first time it happened I just brushed it off. But then it happened again, and again, and again, from different people.
What is happening here?
I have had clients message me over the weekend while I was away in a no-signal zone, and when I finally got the messages I had been threatened with withheld payment if I didn’t immediately answer.
It had only been a few hours.
It wasn’t even an emergency, just an enquiry.
The latest one happened while I was neck deep in a new client project. Hundreds of dollars on the line. I needed to get it done as soon as possible for both the client’s benefit and my financial one. As most freelancers do, I take my work in the order it arrives, I don’t like stopping one project to start another just because someone throws a fit.
Someone messaged me on Facebook.
I didn’t answer, of course, I was busy.
Less than ten minutes later I get a follow up message bitching about my not being available right when he needed me. Mind you, it was after hours and had been less than ten minutes.
This person bullied me into immediately doing his project. I had to set a side a project worth hundreds to do one worth $25 (his thoughts). I charged him $40 for being after hours. He said that was fair, then took over a week to pay me and only sent through $35
Your entitlement and attitude is astounding, sir. I expect better.
What is wrong with people?
I started cataloguing these instances, and was rather shocked to find that every single one of them came from people around my age. People who should know better. People who easily take days to answer my own messages. Older people and older clients, I’ve found, have been far more respectful of my time and have no issues waiting an or or so for a reply, or waiting until the next business day. I know this because they usually clearly state in their messages “I know it’s the weekend, we can start this next week,” or something similar. Not just business matters either, just in general.
I feel like the instant gratification of social media and internet culture has brought along this deep seeded entitlement of instant replies. Instant likes. Instant attention. Instant fame. Instant success.
You must answer me now. You have a phone, there’s no excuse!
Except there is.
Owning a phone does not mean you own someone’s time. Everybody needs a chance to switch off from screens. They need time to do their own things. To take a shower in peace.
Instagram and Facebook have both removed the ability to see how many likes a post has received (In Australia at least) and so far I’m loving it. Why? It’s a huge relief to not be worried about how many likes something gets vs. just releasing the content and moving on to the next project.
I think that it’s a start to stop people from obsessing over this need for instant gratification. It’s the culture that we’ve built, but it’s a culture we need to stamp out. This horrid thought process forks off into other parts of life and it’s crippling.
“Oh, I self published this book three days ago, but nobody has bought it. I’m going to take it down and quit.” -I’ve seen this a lot in my writing groups online.
Oh honey, published authors wait years for their work to get published, you also spent a month writing it, others spend years and then some.
“I wrote this poem on Medium but nobody has responded to it so I’m not doing that anymore.” -Says someone I know who was on the platform for a single day.
Do you know how long it took for me to make my first few dollars? People work on this platform consistently for months (and longer) before they start getting any traction. Put some work into it. Research the market. Poetry isn’t that big here. W o r k
“I posted this cute selfie of myself but nobody has liked it yet. I must be ugly.” – Says someone who needs to get off social media and go to a park.
Likes online mean nothing. GTFO and do your homework, you’ve got a lot to learn about life that’s not on the internet.
“I started an online store but nobody has bought my products yet. I’m such a failure, I can’t even get a business off the ground.” – Says someone with a week old business.
I’m sorry, but can you please remove your head from your bum?
The age of the instant is upon us, but it’s time to start reversing it. You can start by turning your phone off once in a while. Enjoy the now, without the internet. Without having to tell the world about it. Without the need for approval from people who are hiding behind their screens somewhere.
Teach your kids and your friends and your neighbours that the person who they’re trying to contact is busy, and encourage them to go outside. Start a new project. Go play a game. Read a book. Go do something else and remember that other people are doing other things too and you don’t need their instant attention.
Encourage them to ask their friends about what they’re up to and to send them good vibes, not selfish ones.
Bad vibes need not apply.
JLRose is an American fantasy writer, 3D artist and game designer living in Melbourne, Australia. She’s spent the past three years working on the first full-length book of The Galean Universe and has released the first short story of The Lockwood Series.