As one who habitually indulges in catastrophism, I appreciated this essay by John Stackhouse on why people don't get back to us right away when we communicate.  I'm not usually upset when people don't answer e-mails immediately, because if everyone answered e-mails immediately, we'd get sucked into in a destructive vortex.  However, I confess to what might be an inordinate desire for blog comments; my hope for many of my posts is that they will be discussion-starters, and with any of them it's nice to know that someone is at least reading my offerings.  What's more, there are certain blogs I check frequently, looking for information, commentary, and discussion, and it's hard not to be disappointed when nothing new is forthcoming. (I'm not just referring to my own family's blogs, though of course they are the most important and most eagerly sought-after.)

My resigned sigh of "Everyone is too busy actually living life to write about it" is much more accurate than my joking, "Nobody loves me."    Perhaps the most useful response, however, is to remember the times I'm slow at responding to e-mails, or fail to make a comment on a post I like, or to acknowledge a comment on my own blog—as well as the days I allow to pass without providing a new post for my own readers.  In my own case I know there are good reasons for my lack of communication.  Okay, so some of the reasons aren't really all that good—but none is malicious.

Assuming the best rather than the worst sounds like a far happier and healthier approach to all of life.
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, August 6, 2007 at 6:41 am | Edit
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Haha. That's a great article. I'm afraid to tell anyone what my mind comes up with when I experience email silence. I can't complain since I'm one of the worst in responding to emails, but I do tend to assume the worst after the third ignored email. The good thing is all is forgiven and forgotten the moment the silence is broken.

Posted by IrishOboe on Monday, August 06, 2007 at 9:50 am

I realize now that this post makes very little sense unless you actually read the article I refer to, so be sure to follow the link if you want to have a clue what I'm talking about. :)

Posted by SursumCorda on Monday, August 06, 2007 at 10:04 am

It's much less stressful to think the best of people. I've managed to get mostly in the habit of it, and it also helps dispel tension if I say it out loud in certain circumstances. For example, the car in front of us keeps going slowly. I note, out loud, that it has an out of state plate and the driver must be looking for the correct street to turn onto.

I'm not perfect, though. An email example: just today I got a response from a business owner I had asked information from. I thought it wasn't really good business practice to not reply. But here he writes saying the summer has been hectic and he wanted to wait on the reply until he had the full information I had asked about. Yes, I would certainly like fewer emails, no point in writing with partial information if you'll be writing again with full later. Though I guess now that I relate this story, it might be good business practice to reply right away so your (potential) customers know you're on top of it don't think the way I did at first.

Posted by joyful on Monday, August 06, 2007 at 10:05 am

Huh... Guess I got to comment now, right? Seriously, I commiserate, though often for me it is "Nobody loves me." It took me a while to realize just how heavily my vanity was invested in the webpage I coded freshman year of Eastman—I desperately wanted to know that I was being noticed. (Actually, it's less pretty than that; at root I crave worship. That's what it's really about.)

What I am good at, though, is assuming the best. Though even that could be a liability, as you'd discover if you had to live with me. There are times that "Oh, I'm sure it'll be fine" can get old (or dangerous!).

Posted by Andy Bonner on Monday, August 06, 2007 at 9:57 pm

Keep on never know who might stop by and be encouraged by what you write!

Posted by John Stackhouse on Monday, August 06, 2007 at 11:57 pm

Well, now, that's fun to see! Thanks for coming by and especially for commenting, Professor Stackhouse.

Andy, if you include a webpage when you make a comment, you KNOW I'll start following what you write. But you're too shy; I had to find Who Was Thursday on my own. :) And that's a tad out of date, I notice.... Of course, having met you I know you are one of the ones too busy living life to write about it. I really appreciate the time you take to write comments.

Joyful, I think you're right about the value of giving a quick response even when you don't know yet quite what to say. I'm the worst at not replying when I want to think about something more, or when I don't have all the information. But a quick note would at least assure the person that I'm not ignoring him.

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, August 07, 2007 at 7:38 am

At the moment, this is the only webpage I have. Sadly, I just discovered that freshman-year website has been taken down recently. Boy, you want to see out of date, that was it: I left it untouched since then, so it had a nice collection of links to dot-com enterprises that have been dead for 7 years. It was decorated entirely in William Blake (I was a lot more enthusiastic about him in high school; I ultimately found it too laborious to really get "into" him, and he was quickly usurped in my affections by the much more rewarding Chesterton).

Posted by Andy Bonner on Saturday, August 11, 2007 at 1:26 pm
Always Assume the Best
Excerpt: Mom wrote recently about thinking the best, and Janet just got back in touch with a lost friend whose email was misbehaving.  Now it is my turn to be on the receiving end of a gracious friend thinking the best of me. Our friend Sanda, who gre...
Weblog: Daley Ponderings
Date: September 19, 2007, 3:53 pm
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