Why I'm on Facebook but Ignoring Your Texts: Anxious Confessions

I think MLee and I were mutually pleasantly surprised by how much we have in common; verily, we still are. She's kindly joined me in today's post, bringing much insight, honesty, and MLee-ness.

C: Glory of glories, I got a job! A big girl job, too, complete with a salary contract, healthcare, and retirement saving percentages (whatever that means, right?). (M: YES! So proud.)

To say this has been a whirlwind of change and stress and anxiety is uh...well, accurate. Three weeks ago, I had nothing lined up for the fall. Now, I'm moving homes, states, jobs, and LIFE.

Rest assured, I'm very, very excited. But it's also an overwhelming amount condensed into a handful of days. Did I mention I have to create lesson plans for four different classes? Yea...

Which brings me to my point. I was texting a good friend yesterday (by good friend I mean this girl is firmly on the mental bridesmaid list for a hypothetical wedding), and I started it by apologizing for my egregiously late reply, crediting my current state of "overwhelmed." I loved her response:

"Girl, I totally feel you. It's weird how functional I can be with certain things when I'm overwhelmed but completely shut down when it comes to responding to messages or emails...so YES. TOTALLY UNDERSTAND."

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Mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and clicking "like" requires little to no emotional or mental attention. Replying to someone's email about what I think of a youth conference, though? A text asking me how I'm doing? Reminder from the boss to fill out that paperwork? A call to say let's hang out? Nah, man. Shut down.

Why is this? I don't know. I just know that when I'm full of things to do and empty of optimism and motivation, my unread messages reach the 40s and my emails hit the 80s (for comparison, I usually have 0 and 12-15, respectively).

M: I’ve been in the same place: feeling overwhelmed and finding any sort of social interaction completely taxing.  Introverts, we are.  And then some.  The reality is that there have been times in our friendship when we simply haven’t responded to each other too quickly because at least one of us is feeling down or overwhelmed.  

I knew that Callie did not suddenly discover that I am a serial email hoarder—the number of unread messages will remain unnamed to protect the guilty—and decide to sever all connection with me and my ignominious habits.  I knew that my text did not offend her.  (If it did, she would let me know like the incredible Christian friend she is.)  I knew that she didn’t suddenly decide she likes Facebook more than texting with me.  

We could also easily switch out “Callie” for me here, because we are talking WEEKS without my responding at times. #repeatoffender

C: It's especially painful when people you adore are trying to get in touch. A dear friend called me a few weeks ago just to tell me she was getting baptized. Why did it take me 2.5 weeks to respond?! Another beloved friend has recently experienced profound loss in his life, but I'm scrolling through Tasty recipe videos on FB instead of calling him back.

Believe you me, I hate this. And I'm striving, by God's grace. But know that if you see I'm online and I haven't replied, it's not you. It's me. And the dearer you are to me, the higher the likelihood your response will get postponed.

How am I improving? I try to add "reply to texts," "reply to emails," and "reply to whatsapp messages" on my daily to-do list when I'm feeling edgy. But mostly I just wait for a deep breath of calm, intro with lame apologies, and reconnect with friends near and far.

M:  I think I can reasonably say that we are diligent people.  The reality is that sometimes putting off XYZ tasks happens for a deeper reason (for us, being overwhelmed with work), not simply because we’re just bad at getting things done.  Sometimes I just feel like your text is so important that I can’t muster up all my emotional energy to respond in the way it deserves (see Callie’s comment on the same thing above and you’ll know why we are friends).  

But the reality also dawns on me that it’s okay NOT to be attached at the hip to your texting medium of choice.  At a time when smartphones seem like more of an appendage than tool, when iMessages have free access to your computer screen, we propose this radical idea:

maybe you should schedule times to respond to texts and emails.  Maybe you shouldn’t feel the need to respond instantly to messages.  You are not a machine, you!

Of course, there’s the harder truth for me: maybe you shouldn’t be on Facebook all the time, either. (C: too close to home, haha)

I don’t think either of us are trying to offer conclusive solutions for the overwhelmed and bad texters like us who may be reading this.  But considering 1) the reasons why you find responding difficult and 2) setting limits for your messaging habits sounds like a good place to start.  

C: It’s okay that you’re not perfect at everything all the time. Like MLee said, you’re not a machine. It’s okay that we’re still figuring stuff out. We’re all figuring it out.

What about you? Does this ever happen to you? How do you interact (or not!) with others when you're feeling overwhelmed?