Monday, September 21, 2015

Silence: Yes Or No?

Earlier this month, I posted on Facebook a rant filled with raw emotions (or so it seemed):
"I ask not for much. Just an answer. Yes or no, doesn't matter. Just don't leave it to silence. Just don't expect hopes to simply fade away painlessly - they don't. Just let me know. No, not now or never - it's fine, I can take it. All I want is closure.
To keep others waiting, hanging and guessing - it's a cruel thing to do. Let people know where they stand in your eyes. Easy as that. Leave people stuck in limbo, and they will know not when to turn and move on.
I ask not for much. Just an answer, any answer. All I want is closure. So that I know if I should stay or I should go."

It's quite clear what I'm ranting for - the pain of not getting an answer. As to who I'm ranting about - ah, this is where some people may have misunderstood (as I received a lot of thoughtful messages from friends near and far to take silence as meaning "no", to be strong, forget about "her", and to move on).

The rant is actually directed at all kinds of peoples: friends, co-workers, business associates, and anyone anywhere that I have relations with. Basically, I'm pissed about people who stay silent when circumstances obliges them to say something. And it's not because I badly want a positive answer from them, but simply because I need closure (and we all do).

How it feels like to be ignored :(

Mo' Connections, Mo' Problems

Wait! Before we move on, let's get a few things out of the way. This has nothing to do with sex - romance has its own set of complicated rules, and rape has warped notions of consent. This also has nothing to do with harassment - it's not right to persistently cold-call a total stranger until your demands are met.

There has to be a pre-existing relationship first, for any obligation to respond to arise. Relationships can be deep or shallow. So even if I drop someone I've never met before an email inquiry and that person responds in friendly tones saying he'll get back to me, a relationship has taken root and expectations bloom from it. If the person ignores me from the start, that's perfectly fine and I'll just move on expecting nothing more in return.

It's simple, really. If you're not interested in the first place, then don't respond to me. But if you do respond, it signifies that you are interested and consequently, it's common courtesy to inform me at any stage if your interest has dropped. A polite message would do: "Sorry, I'm not the person you're looking for. Best of luck in your search!"

Maybe I'm weird. But I actually take the time and effort to respond to every unsolicited message that comes through my inbox, Facebook and even LinkedIn (except if they have titles mocking my penile prowess or alluding to a secret estate I'm about to inherit from a long-lost uncle).
Yes, in this digital world, we are increasingly becoming more connected and pressured into new connections. But isn't that the whole point why we plugged in? So that we can be spotted and discovered, and spot and discover others? You can't have your cake and eat it too. You can't enjoy the benefits of instantaneous and ubiquitous connections (for instance, asking for urgent help on retrieving a document you 'accidentally' deleted), and not bear the burden of being expected to help out (or at the very least, respond appropriately) when someone pings you. Yes, more connections attracts more expectations. But they also open up more opportunities.

Don't play dumb - just tell the stormtroopers that these aren't the droids they're looking for

Closing Time

Sorry, got distracted there. It may seem that I'm implying that the social network has changed the way we behave - but I'm not. There is really no difference between the physical and digital world when it comes to social etiquette. The only difference is that relationships are evolving at a faster rate now. The basic rules of communications, however, remain unchanged.

One golden rule is that it's not nice to keep people in the dark, leave them hanging and unsure where they stand on any unresolved matter. The typical excuse given is that prolonged silence means 'no', and that silence saves everyone from further embarrassment and pain of rejection. That's just plain bullshit. You're just being lazy and cowardly. You're just avoiding your responsibility of ending a relationship that you started or had a hand in starting. You're just being selfish.

No one breaks up simply by changing addresses and blocking their partner on Facebook. No one moves out of a rented apartment without giving notice to the landlord. No one walks away from the negotiation table without telling the other party that the deal is off. (Well, probably someone has, in the whole history of humanity, but not without facing painful repercussions afterwards.)

Sure, those are examples of mature relationships. Sure, in those examples, well thought out responses are required. But that don't mean no response is required at all for ending shallow relationships. You do still have to respond, but just spend less time at it. If a beggar (probably a fraud even) approaches you in real life, you either pass him some spare change or wave him off dismissively. Either way, you responded. How long did it take you to wave a hand to signify 'no'? Seconds? Likewise, how long would it take you to craft a short email response saying "not interested? Seconds, too.

Yes, in this fast-moving world, time is short and relationships can be fleeting. So what? That's still no excuse to be a jerk or bitch. Say "yes" or "no", but don't say nothing at all. Be nice, be brave. People need answers. They deserve to know, so let them know. The sooner they get closure, the sooner they can move on. If you think it's a waste of time to answer, it's an even greater waste of time for the other person to wait for an answer. Give up a few seconds of your life, and you can save hours of another. Remember - karma works both ways. On some other day, you may be at the wrong end of the waiting, and that'll be the day your bleeding heart hopelessly cries out for a clot that will never close.

Summer called and said it's over. Shucks, but there's always Autumn.

Keep On Moving

We gotta keep on moving. In work, in love, in life. No matter what others do or don't, no matter if they are out to stop or slow you with half-assed non-committal answers.

I regularly encounter people who turn cold and go silent. Do I like it? No. But do I spend all my time moping about it and letting the uncertainty ruin my life? No. I move on. Quite easily, actually.

So what's my problem? My problem is that I could have moved on quicker, if people just had the balls to give me a damn answer. I could have, like, save a couple of hours or days focusing on new connections and experiences instead. I could have, like, save my time from writing that Facebook post and this article.

But it's alright. Ranting gives clarity. To me, and to you. Forget about the spineless and heartless twats - ain't nobody got that time for them. For the rest of us caring folks, let's all do our part. Keep on talking, keep on moving.

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