“Opting Out”

Avoidance is a coping mechanism that is used to avoid stressful situations. An interesting new social norm that has aroused my curiosity is the ignoring of texts, messaging apps, email, and other online invites. I have heard people say that it’s a “polite” way of declining and it should not be considered rude. No response simply implies they are not interested for whatever reason. The awkward conversation is avoided for both parties.

I hear other people boldly state “lack of response is a powerful response”. It tells you a lot about a person’s emotional maturity. The ability to directly address uncomfortable situations reflects their coping abilities and consideration for other people. Adaptive coping involves a healthier response that offers a simple “Yes Please” or “No Thank-you”. No explanation is even required – just a response.  It’s polite to respond one way or another because it shows respect to the person that sent the invite or asked the question. Not responding holds the host hostage as they question the intent of the person they messaged. “Did they not get my text”? “Are they waiting to see if something better comes along”? “Are they mad at me”? “Should I go ahead and make other plans”?

Requests for our time are higher than they have ever been. The convenience of technology can lead to an overwhelming load of emails and texts to reply too. Putting the phone down and taking a break is something we all need to do from time to time.

 The way we communicate is different than it was twenty years ago. Etiquette about the way we communicate is changing as a result. We do not agree on what is acceptable communication and what is considered rude.

While we may not all agree on etiquette of communication, I think we can all agree that how we communicate our priorities is through our actions. When something is important to us, we find a way to make to make it a priority. This is where we invest our time and sacrifice. If something is unimportant, we make excuses. We opt out. Our opinions on how we feel about this new social norm are only part of the equation. Our actions and what we make priorities are what define our relationships.

“It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.” ― Jane Austen

2 thoughts on ““Opting Out”

  1. As someone who hates confrontation, I can safely say that I’m pretty much an avoidant person when it comes to dealing with problems. Am working on that on the daily though. Thanks for this post, Liz!

    1. Many of us struggle with confrontation, including myself. It’s uncomfortable. I have learned that it’s essential for relationships to grow so I work at it daily as well. Thanks for sharing!

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