When my mom was applying for new jobs last year, she found out it is no longer customary to reply to emails. Out of the dozens of jobs for which she applied, only a couple actually responded to her with an answer, whether that was yes or no. She put work into writing cover letters, filling out long-form applications, and preparing for interviews, but nowadays companies don’t feel the need to respond to every applicant or interviewee. And this trend isn’t just for job searches, it’s happening everywhere, especially where screens separate us from the person we’re talking to. We have reached the age of anti-communication.
This leaves countless people in the lurch. If someone puts effort into a job application, they deserve a response whether or not they get hired. When my mom got interviews, even after having multiple, she would often just stop hearing from the employers. For her, for me, and for many of my friends who have applied for jobs or internships already, it’s hard to decide whether or not to send a follow up message, feeling that if they wanted to hire you, they would have contacted you already.
This trend of leaving people without responses is detrimental to society. When writing an article for my journalism class, I emailed multiple government press offices, even made follow-up calls, and only got responses from two people. When you rely on others for something you’re working on, it should be common courtesy to at least reply with “I’m sorry, but we don’t have time to answer your questions,” or “I’m sorry, but we have decided to hire someone else.” It is not that hard to bulk email all of the job applicants or all of the people who have tried to get an interview, so they can move on and try to get another job or another source.
People don’t feel disrespectful when not replying to others due to this degree of separation created by our phones and computers. Communication seems impersonal, so we have disconnected from the actual person who is sending an email or making a call. My friends frequently never respond to texts I send them, which can cause me to question my relationships with them. And I don’t think it’s just me. The issue is not that we don’t have the time to send replies, so are we just forgetful? Do we feel that a response isn’t necessary now that we communicate impersonally?
I think it’s a bit of both. And in certain circumstances, making the other person wait for a response, seeming “hard to get,” is the social norm. For some reason, flaunting your lack of interest in another person is desirable. Making them wait for a reply text is the modern day version of “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” And maybe this has translated into all of us feeling like taking hours to respond with a two-word text message is perfectly acceptable. Maybe, since it’s already so easy to tell someone how you feel through a screen, whether it’s apologetic or upset or even happy, the reply feels optional.
Whatever it is, humanity as a whole needs to get better at responding, especially when the person you’re responding to has put time and effort into their message. Tell people how you feel; if you don’t want to be in a relationship anymore, make that clear. Have conversations, even if they are difficult and uncomfortable. Being able to sit alone on your laptop is not a bad thing, but don’t let the fact that you’re not face to face with someone make you immune to how they feel.
Claire is a sophomore in the College.