Editor’s Note: This month, that is December 2020, FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth is Modern Love and Relationships, where we invite various articles to highlight how love has been fundamental in our lifeworlds and how these experiences and perceptions around love are shaped by our identities in a modern Indian context. If you’d like to share your article, email us at email@example.com.
Posted by Arunesh X
We really shouldn’t have problems with late replies. Let’s say, you’re in a bad mood and I’m talking about something exciting. If you reply now, you’ll be obviously faking excitement to enable me. And after one point, you’ll be tired and your indifferent replies will make me double think my ideas. It leads to unwanted skepticism and doubting of self worth.
But, if you don’t reply, until you make yourself free from external affairs or fix your bad mood (and fixing happens only from within in most cases, which also requires a lot of personal space and time), your response to my text will be genuinely honest, even if that has conflicting ideas or criticisms and won’t drain neither of our energy.
After the global pandemic, most of us are busy with irregularities of working hours. We’d have our own commitments. And even if we are completely idle, we aren’t entitled to respond to anyone, when we aren’t ready for a conversation. Who gives anyone the idea that we ‘owe’ a response? Who planted the thought that not responding fast is an act of rudeness? Where there is an obligation to respond; isn’t there an obvious distribution of power?
The privilege play comes when one of the persons involved in the conversation holds a lower ranking in work, pay grade or authority. It also happens when they are unemployed, since unskilled labour is considered inferior in conventional mainstream Indian society. This idea of privilege and power play is an effect of social conditioning and conformity to hierarchical orders in our society. Late responses build up insecurities by challenging the ego in most cases.
For example, you might hear things like, “What is more important than replying to my message?” or in an unhealthy relationship it could be, “How dare they ignore my message without responding?” Therefore, like in every institutional relationship with an invisible set of rules, it becomes an obligation, to respond at instance. It is rather surprising while seeing how texting, a very late 20th century western invention accommodated ‘Indian’ sensibility and culture in its functionality.
The person at the other end must be in a place to understand that we’re not in a good place to reply. It’s a teamwork, where we make it clear that we’re taking time to process things. As long as we are honest and communicate about how we feel (because none of us are telepaths), we can avoid conflicts. Again, conflicting thoughts in a conversation are different from conversations which are entirely conflicts. A talk with varied opinions is different from a talk where the sole reason is establishing one’s righteousness and justifying one’s actions.
The pandemic made us construct various norms such as not responding at instant equates to lack of interest, using non-lexical fillers is a sign of arrogance, staying online after finishing the conversation signifies disloyalty (since many believe their partner shouldn’t have fun with others). Therefore, there is a necessity to communicate and debunk such assumptions at least just to the partners to prevent insecurities and conflicts.
This space for explanation requires time. Instant response might diminish the time, therefore the space too. If they don’t respond at instant, we should rather give them the space they deserve to sort things out. Pushing the partners to their limits never ends in a healthy note.
Arunesh X is a Dalit writer, Theatre Artist, Dalit studies/ Masculinities studies scholar, intersectional feminist and Dalit activist, who finished Masters in Pondicherry University. He worked as Editor at Oxford University Press, India. He writes his fiction and poetry under the pen name Hsenura. You can find him on Instagram.
Featured Image Source: Feminism In India