A Pen Pal Philosophy

You are likely reading this because I took a very long time to respond to your email/text/smoke signal. My Southern mother, if she understood the social norms of the internet, would be appalled at my poor online manners of not responding to you in a timely fashion. For that, I apologize.

I’m realizing that we each deal with an avalanche of notifications day to day. A quick Google search led me to this stat:

In the US, people using smartphones receive 45.9 push notifications per day, on average. (Source)

I hate how much we must dig ourselves out of every day between the news, emails, texts, social media notifications, etc. I’m sure you do too. I’ve removed email, slack (for work), and the WordPress app from my phone. You can only call or text me and even then I leave my phone on silent all day. It helps my sanity – it doesn’t help my response times.

I approach responding to notifications like pen palling. I’ve had a few true pen pals in my life and the part I loved most was the calm, when-they-come-they-come responses. It was always an unexpected delight to receive a response. I want my responses to be like this. I read “Present Shock” by Douglas Rushkoff a few years ago and, after doing so, decided to give it a try.

So here we are – you got a late reply from me and likely have made assumptions about who I am. I apologize for that. I refuse to be “always on” or to reply “in real time”. I do promise to always give genuine and patient replies though. I promise not to skip over your questions. I promise I will really think about whatever it is you send me. I promise I appreciate your patience. Ultimately, please don’t mistake a lack of a speedy reply with a lack of enthusiasm on my part.

Your forced Pen Pal,


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