A few nights ago I found myself unable to sleep. It happened to be exam-caused insomnia, that inevitable, unshakable phase when your brain gives you a running commentary of exactly when and how you wasted time all semester. After unsuccessfully trying to count sheep and listening to every single song stored on my mobile phone at least twice, I decided to see whether anyone else was online on WhatsApp, Facebook or Hangout.
Three of my friends were available to chat. One was a fellow insomniac. Another was doing a Game of Thrones marathon, while the third was completing a boring assignment. Within seconds I found myself indulging in mindless chatter with the insomniac, discussing the fate of the Seven Kingdoms and trying to avoid putting spoilers into the conversation with the GoT enthusiast, and empathizing with the assignment-solver. The insomniac was continuously online until we ended the conversation an hour later. The GoT viewer and the assignment-solver, however, were going offline periodically for a few seconds or minutes, thus inducing some impatience in me. My reaction was more or less like this:
It got me thinking…
No matter how balanced a person you are and no matter how much control you have over your feelings, an unanswered message from someone whose reply you’re waiting for can be really annoying! You’re online, you’ve got a chat window open, you’re talking to someone, and they suddenly disappear! There’s a “Seen at <time>” underneath the message you’ve sent on Facebook, a blue double-tick at the bottom of your WhatsApp message or your friend’s “last seen” indicates that they may have read your message. Your reaction is something like this:
“Maybe he’s busy,” you convince yourself.
“Maybe she’s conversing with someone else and will reply soon…”
“Maybe he’s trying to come up with an apt answer!”
“Maybe she’s not interested in this topic”
But we do mind; sometimes not that much, sometimes a good deal, depending on how important the conversation is. Each of us likes to be listened to, to be paid attention to, to be given importance. While no one wants to intrude into anyone’s personal space and most of us understand that sometimes the other person isn’t in the mood to talk, it can be very hard to read another person’s mind when you’re conversing virtually. Written text can be deceptive. Reading between the lines is not easy, even if you are quite good at guessing what a person means simply by analyzing sentence structure, and their use of phrases and clauses. If this person is important to you, you feel like you absolutely have to know if there’s a problem. And then, if you’re like me, you can make the mistake of coming on too strong while trying to resolve the problem.
Well, waiting is no game alright! I guess you get better at it with time, and when a few arguments with dear ones teach us to stop becoming paranoid about every lapse of conversation. We realize that people matter more than our ego and that our hurt feelings often have more to do with us than with how other people are behaving. Sometimes, it’s just best to accept the silence and to move on. Even if no one else hears what you’re trying to say, the Universe definitely does! 😀