There is nothing more agonising than working up the most beautifully sculpted message; a true work of meticulous thought and wordsmithing that would make even the Bard weep, only to have it met with the abrasiveness and nonchalance that is inherently carried in the simple act of “blue ticking.”
We all know the feeling, waiting for the confirmation of your WhatsApp being read, and the gut-wrenching nerves of a positive response. Strangely, I bear no reference to a cold text to a crush, a post date confirmation and even suggestion of a second encounter. I mean strait-laced, workplace update or query. Met with a veritable, albeit proverbial, slam of the door in your face. A double blue tick staring you in the face. AND. NO. REPLY.
Far be it for this girl to be dramatic (I mean, me? Dramatic?) but surely it’s one of the lesser wonderful signs of our times if we’re too busy for a simple “thanks” or “got it” or even a simple “okay.” It feels like this is everything that’s wrong with communication in the digital age; a fairy tale of always on but never present. Folks, blue tick culture is going to be the death of us.
Digitisation is here to stay. We’re zooming instead of chatting over a cuppa; an emoji “👍🏻” serves as approval or confirmation of good work. I’m on board with that because busy lives and what not, right? Also, there’s something discerningly strange about being “always on” – a cloak of invisibility or distance always sounds significantly more appealing to me. That being said, is blatant lack of response or acceptance okay even then?
There’s a reason deals used to be made in person, a handshake was as good as a promise and knowing someone’s father or golf handicap was enough of a character assessment. Integrity was clear to see, manners made the (wo)man and reputation was worth its weight in every flawless carat (because more than gold, you know?). Today’s excuse for professional courtesy is worse than mutton dressed as lamb. It’s the digital “meh” masquerading as all to do and too busy etiquette. Call me old fashioned, but non, merci.
Communication exists in many forms, even in a lack thereof. How we gesture, our every intonation, and even our body language. There are studies into people’s facial tics and what they mean, the volumes spoken by even the simple raise of an eyebrow, or the way in which one carries one’s hands. In meetings, manners dictate we stay off our phones, resisting the urge to check emails on the fly or sneak a quick text every so often. We know how to act, how to speak (or not) and what qualifies as acceptable or not. Fifty email replies of “Noted” from everyone on the company thread? No. Return a call you may have missed? Yes. Acknowledge non-broadcast WhatsApps or messages? YES.
Be it a client query, a colleague heads up of a friendly check in, we’ve learned all too dearly the importance of being mindful and present, especially in the last couple of pandemic-coloured years. We’ve been distanced. Must we now be distant too? It removes the human, caring and engaging communication style we all know the world could do with a bit more of these days. It breeds familiarity and connection. It affirms receipt, understanding and action (if so required). Sometimes blue ticking someone has a strategic purpose; you want them to squirm a bit, or maybe the message is too ridiculous or out of order to warrant a reply. That makes sense – but how often is this likely to be the case?
It’s hard to be a poet in a world that encourages brevity above all else, but nobody is asking for monologues of biblical length. Spare your colleague, client or friend the stress of delayed action because they’re simply hanging for hours waiting on a basic “cool,” or their own frustration because you didn’t have the information necessary to deliver as they wanted. And you may very well be the obstacle to progress for something great! I mean, it’ll take you less time that it would for you to light up a cigarette or check your Insta.
Blue tick culture is going to be the death of us.
Can we fix it, please?