Two or three decades ago, you wouldn’t find many people running into the question, is it rude not to reply to a text message? Here’s the truth.
Depending on the circumstances, yes and no. It’s rude not to reply to a text message from family, friends or work colleagues who reached out to check up on you or to inquire about something important.
Time sensitive messages require some degree of priority and should be responded to in due time. For example, when someone texts you about meeting up or an upcoming event.
It would be rude and disrespectful not to reply to such a text.
In general, singular events of ignoring a text does not amount to you being a rude person.
Most of the time, your friends and family are going to be understanding and forgiving. But, that may not extend to people outside of your immediate circle.
If you continue to ignore text messages, even from family, there may come a point when no amount of excuses can change the fact that you are being rude.
We must remember one simple fact – it only takes a minute to reply to someone.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, most of us can’t go longer than an hour without being on our phones.
So if you’re choosing to not reply to a text message, then that comes with the consequence of being rude and offending people. Especially, if you are active online.
Situations when not replying to a text is rude
Even though life gets demanding and overwhelming at times, there are instances when not replying to a text is inexcusable.
The idea of instant messaging was developed to bridge the gap caused by physical distance.
It allows us to handle important communications earnestly and with urgency, even if we may not feel like it at times because every single one of us has some form of responsibility to care and address the people in our lives.
Time sensitive text messages
These text messages often deal with events and plans in the near future and require a quick response.
In such a situation, ignoring that text message can be considered rude and disrespectful because it shows a lack of interest and prioritization on your part.
Messages for assistance and help
Given the nature of this text message, coming to the aid of someone who needs your help and assistance is considered a vital part of our humanity as civilized people.
If there is an emergency like someone has been in an accident, is unwell, has broken down, needs assistance with something important or related to work, not replying is not just rude but inconsiderate.
If the situation were flipped, would you be okay with someone who claims to care about you to ignore your texts during a crisis?
Texts from family and friends about serious matters
Granted, adult life is full of responsibility and deadlines so it’s understandable that you don’t have much time to work with. Maintaining a social life and being consistent with text conversations is difficult.
However, when a family member or friend reaches out to you in private and in regards to a sensitive or serious matter that requires your input or attention, not replying can quickly become rude and hurtful.
Related post: Do my friends actually like me?
Situations when it is not rude to ignore text messages
There are a few instances when not replying to a text is justifiable and acceptable and we are going to discuss that below.
I think it’s important for us to be self-aware of our intentions and reasoning for our actions.
When you come from a place of justifiability, you may not absolve yourself from consequence but you certainly have an acceptable reason for not replying to a specific text or texts.
In which case, such reasoning can have the power of creating room for forgiveness if the other person takes offense.
When you are genuinely busy
As we all know, life only gets more demanding as you transition from stage to stage of adulthood.
Juggling your time effectively becomes an art and you may often find yourself buried in work and chores.
Understandably, you may not be able to reply to a text when you’re in the middle of a meeting or taking care of a toddler. Some things in life are of such a nature that you can’t do anything but deal with them until they are taken care of before checking your phone and replying to texts.
Don’t beat yourself up about it so long as you get back to whomever as quickly as possible.
When people are texting you memes
Surprisingly enough, I encounter many people (young adults) who engage in meme sharing as a form of communication.
It can be fun when you’re free or bored but only up until a certain point. If you find yourself not interested in maintaining a conversation of memes, that’s okay.
At the end of the day, memes cannot demand the same level of importance as a text message, from a social etiquette perspective.
When someone disrespects or attacks you
In my earlier days, I used to respond to these text messages because I felt an obligation to deal with them and come to some form of conclusion to the issue.
But, more often than not, I often left the text exchange regretful, insulted or disillusioned by what was said.
As I’ve aged, I’ve come to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for disrespect and personal attacks.
Rather than engaging the situation and risk stooping down to a level that doesn’t sit well with me, I just ignore the texts and that person.
Is there really much justification for being disrespected and attacked on a text?
Unless I have done something to genuinely anger that person and I’m in the wrong, there’s no excuse for being texted disrespectfully.
You’ll avoid a lot of drama in your life by actually ignoring someone who is wrongfully attacking you over text.
When you are trying to avoid a fight
Isn’t it so easy for messages to be misconstrued? Even if you are the most considerate texter on the planet, you still pose the risk of getting into an argument or fight.
The problem with text messages is that anything can be said. People tend to lose control and say the harshest of things during fights over text because there’s nobody in front of them in person.
That digital distance creates a false or fake safety net allowing people to take things too far.
If you sense that someone is being passive-aggressive with you over text and replying to him or her will only aggravate the situation, you can actually ignore the text messages until they cool down.
When someone is trying to gossip or backbite
Think about this – would you be happy learning about someone you know or care about is talking behind your back and spreading confidential or private information to others?
Probably not. Similarly, engaging in a text exchange about someone else that has a defamatory or negative connotation to it doesn’t serve you in a good way at all.
If word gets out that you were gossiping and backbiting about someone you know, it could cause unnecessary drama and stress in your life.
Furthermore, the person who is backbiting or gossiping to you could turn around and do the same thing behind your back.
A quick fix
Look, if you’re too busy or not in the right headspace to deal with a situation, it’s okay to wait until you are.
Simply text that individual back with a short and sweet message that you will get back to them asap when you can give them your full attention.
I think it is far more respectful and considerate to do that than to leave someone on read or unread for days or weeks on end.
Not replying to a text may not make you a rude person but if it happens on more than one occasion, then what you’re doing is rude.
With that being said, I really hope you found some clarity on whether it is rude not to reply to a text message. Like most things in life, you just have to judge each situation on a case by case basis, weigh the circumstances and make a decision based on what you find.
And look, even if you have been rude in the past, it’s nothing that a genuine apology can’t fix. Those who care about you will eventually understand and not hold it against you.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and questions in the comment section below.