The crippling expectation of 24/7 digital availability - Deepstash

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Digital availability / 24-hour burden

Digital availability / 24-hour burden

Communication technology has created the expectation of people being always and instantly available. A 2021 survey found that 30% of Americans are constantly online.

This is because most people have mobile phones with platforms of communication and can respond immediately. Added is that apps and social media have ingrained 24/7 communication into our lives.


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The nagging feeling

The nagging feeling

Message-senders expect immediate replies. They may get annoyed and ride an emotional roller coaster when a message isn't immediately answered. 'Maybe something bad happened.' 'Maybe he's mad at me.'

The sender may wonder why they can't just respond with a busy now, talk later. These negative feelings can increase when sending a joke or meme and expecting a quick haha or a simple emoji.

Part of what cause these uncomfortable feelings is that there's no universal agreed-upon etiquette for behaviour in a 24/7 digital world.


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Notification norms

In other areas of our lives, we have clearly defined norms we regard as 'correct.' For example, when you share big news with someone, an immediate congratulations is generally expected, while a delayed response may seem rude.

In a 24/7 digital world, not everyone agrees on norms. When people get annoyed by a non-response, they may project their own norms or rules onto others as if their standards are universal.


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What we can do

If you get angry about a slow or non reply, it may help to remember that you're projecting your own anxieties on the recipient when you don't know what is going on with the other person.

When you have a friend whose communication patterns are annoying, perhaps an open and honest discussion might be needed. If you find that you blood is boiling, it may be best to just put down the phone for some time.


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