If You Are Too Busy To Reply to A Message, Then You are Sending a Message

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by ayeshamus

Just sayin’

I’m not talking about anyone in particular, so stop getting all defensive and looking for DMs you’ve ignored (no you should go look).

But if you are such a freaking big shot that you cannot reply to someone’s message, especially if you have had prior ones, well you are saying, “I am important… and you are not.”

We get a large amount of impersonal communications. I can tell the auto generated emails that are sent by machines. It fails to make me feel warm inside.

Last week, i was working on a web site where I was failing to get a scheduled script to run (I know how to cron, but the host seemed to have de-activated useful tools like wget and curl). I had remembered using web services that do this, and the second one I tried (the first one said free, but that was 30 days before an upsell kicks in). I ended up using SetCronJob.

It just worked.

The next day I got an email:

Hi Alan Levine,

I just wanted to see how things are going with your SetCronJob account xxxxxxxx@xxxx.zzz.
Is everything working to your satisfaction?

Please feel free to let me know if you have any question ๐Ÿ™‚

Best regards,
Nguyen An Thuan.

Now this very much could be generated by a script. Maybe it was. But I replied.

Yes it is, this is working perfectly on a webhost not set up for curl or wget

to which I got a reply

Hi Alan,

I’m glad that it works for you ๐Ÿ™‚
If you need any help, feel free to email me.

Best regards,
Nguyen An Thuan.

This is called a human communication. I like it. It makes me feel nice. I feel heard, maybe te most understated and mis managed human communication pattern- being acknowledged. Do you know how huge that is?

It may matter a hill of pinto beans, and maybe for a giant conglomerate responding individually to emails does not scale.

I am not interested in that kind of scaling.

I know at some level it might be impossible for people to respond to messages. They may have to have responder robots, or exective assistances who scan their messages, or turn their email off when they travel. Such a burden to have that much communication coming in.

I hope to stay well below that level. I will respond to everything sent my way (except spam) (well sometimes spam cause its fun). I likely have trouble knowing when to stop responding.

This is how I roll. What you do is your gig.

I don’t want to be that dude above in the photo.

Guess what keyword I used to find him in compfight.com?

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. Whenever possible I like to do that with new Hippie Hosting signups. I figure the system generates a lot of automated emails but nothing beats a real person saying “Hey, I noticed you signed up and I appreciate it. If you need anything here is my personal address, shoot me an email.” You’re right it doesn’t “scale” but most meaningful interactions probably don’t and shouldn’t.

    Although your post did remind me of another interaction I had with a larger company recently that was pretty interesting. My wife and I both have accounts with Simple, a fairly new bank. I had to call to change my address and the person talking to me didn’t have any script, no automated stuff. I called, someone answered, talked to me like a normal human being, and even wished me luck on the move and unpacking. It was so refreshing to not have someone reel off some script in a monotone voice with no enthusiasm and just talk to me like a regular person.

  2. Totally appreciated this one. I’m so bad for reading emails and then thinking that I’ll reply later. I’m taking a page from this book for sure! Always growing…
    And it sounds like someone’s not a true friend. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I struggle with this one, Alan. I get sooooo much spam/ junk/ pr from REAL people who want me to write about their stuff that it crowds out the REALLY REAL people. I do scan my mail but sometimes it just gets lost. I think spam is a huge problem but is sometimes not just caused by spambots. I just can’t read the 300-500 emails a day that come in through my blog. I guess my not replying is saying that I’m overwhelmed and I guess I need to hire someone to help me. Beside paying for sanebox which helps me pretty well, I just don’t know what to do than to batch it. And if I’m writing a book (like right now) I can pretty much hang it up because it isn’t happening. I have had times where I got to inbox zero every day but that 2 hours was just over the top. I try to give my friends my cell and ask them to text me and hope that I can just catch most of the important stuff. I do understand what you’re saying but just wanted to speak from the other side of the struggle here. Of course, I’m not a company – I’m a real full time teacher with no secretary, no staff, who is fortunate enough to have my blog read by a few people. It can quickly get out of hand, though.

    1. I probably came off a bit preachy– I have some luxury in not getting a ton of email, in fact little.

      The thing I reflect Vicki is that you try and extend as much as you can, that’s all we can do. I was aiming more at people who don’t try or a few former friends/colleagues that have ignored repeated personal out reaches.

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