It’s a rule that didn’t exist 10 years ago, but now the 24hrs rule, although an unwritten rule, governs our etiquette regarding email, SMS text messaging and phone calls. Unless you are ill, on holiday or unexpectedly put in prison, you are meant to reply to this type of electronic message, to a friend or colleague, within 24hrs, anything longer and it is considered rude and an apology would be expected with the message.
Before the predominance of the internet and mobile phones, communication was limited to old fashioned landline telephone calls and snail mail. Now that we carry around electronic devices on our person and engage in social networking several times a day, we fully expect a response to our message within a reasonable time frame, which is no more than 24hours.
If a message goes over 24hrs without a response, then we get very annoyed as it is disrespectful to behave in such an impolite way. Even as the 24hrs barrier approaches we start to get annoyed that the person dares to get close to a contemptible reply time.
We are increasingly becoming more and more impatient and the 24hr rule is starting to become socially unacceptable for text messages and that a response within 12hrs (inclusive of sleep time) is expected. A good friend of mine was even upset the other day that I took 6hrs to reply to her text message and I was ill at the time!
It’s only in the dating arena, as per my previous blog post, where communication is acceptable over the 24hrs period otherwise it seems too keen. More and more we have to communicate with people over different mediums, but also be conscious of how quickly and often we do it. We also learn whether our friends are more responsive to a particular form of communication, some prefer texts, other emails and some even (can you believe it?) actually prefer talking on the phone!
I’m quite happy with the 24hrs rule but I worry that we are moving towards a world where instant responses are required. I am not a fan of that and that is why I don’t log into instant messaging systems unless I have arranged to chat to somebody.
- The Text Message Era (mycricket.com)
- Americans and Text Messaging – Pew Research Center (policyabcs.wordpress.com)