Sometimes I open my WhatsApp and find 120+ unopened messages and I feel overwhelmed and close the app. But because some of you have an inflated sense of self, you start thinking that I am ignoring you. Well I am, but it’s not you, its me. 

You can’t pour from an empty cup

Watched a sermon by TD Jakes once about how you can’t pour from an empty cup. He said you can’t be everything to everyone because you will keep pouring out until you are empty and you can’t be useful to anyone at that point. They also say everyone you meet either adds to you or subtracts from you. I’ve found that more people text me to take from than to add to me. Especially those ones who text you because they are bored and you’re the circus act to entertain them. WhatsApp is like having conversations with several people at the same time, a whole mess. Call me an old soul but I can’t do it.

Being on my WhatsApp is a privilege

I had a friend who had a standard procedure of not putting her WhatsApp number on her CV. Her workplace would assume she didn’t have WhatsApp. In my head with my passion for communication I felt it was an inconvenience and then I asked myself inconvenient for who? WhatsApp makes you so highly accessible people will text you at their convenience and be mad when you respond at your convenience. I had a boss who would work through the night and you’d find several messages before your body has even rebooted.  Read your contract, nowhere does it say “must be available on WhatsApp 24/7,” in which case they will have to provide said phone. Have you ever been texted about work outside working hours? Did you respond? I miss the days of landlines, the emergency would have to wait.

Did you ask if I’m in a position to talk?

No one is always in a position to talk unless it’s a receptionist or customer care. They are paid to be in a position to always speak to you. When you text me, you don’t know what I’m doing or what I am going through. If you have ever gone through tragedy, you’ll know that some things don’t matter to you during that time. You are quite literally at the bottom of my priorities’ list. You don’t know where people are at with their mental health, come correct. It’s the same with video calls, don’t just video call someone, you don’t know where they are at! Where’s your home training?!?

Don’t ambush me for a response

Sometimes someone will text you and it’s like you’re sweating beads while being held at gunpoint. A response from me would be nice but I don’t owe it to you. In the same way during a face-to-face conversation you might say some things that I will choose to ignore for the sake of peace. You did not buy my phone and you don’t buy my airtime or pay my WiFi bill. This means I reserve the right to issue a response. I could plead the 5th Amendment on your texts. It’s my Constitutional right to have freedom of speech and sometimes that means not speaking. I have the right to open your message, decide to not respond and close it. Nothing illegal about it even Jesus blueticked questions when they tried him.

I don’t have my thinking cap on

Some will text you something that needs intellectual resources and you might be distracted by work or a looming deadline. I can’t drop everything to be at your beck and call. You don’t pay me (enough) for that. I struggle with anxiety sometimes and my head is just buzzing with a million thoughts. I can’t even tell what’s on my mind and here you are with a deep philosophical question while my brain is malfunctioning. Selfish much? 

Hi Thembi, how are you? I’d like to pick your brain on something please let me know when you’re available for that conversation,” that’s all I’m asking for.

State your case

I know as Africans we like to beat around the bush before stating our case. I don’t have time for it. If you send me three messages before stating what you need I’ll assume you don’t need anything and that you’re just loitering and move past. Thus dragging it out longer. Send messages about what you need so that when I finally get around to you I can give you a response and you can move on with your life. 

The message:

Hi Thembi, hoping you are well. I was wondering if you’d be able to look over my application essays for the fellowship. They are due in two days

The response:

Hi, unfortunately I won’t be able to proof read your application but thank you for considering me. Wishing you all the best for the fellowship. (I don’t owe you an explanation as to why but if I’m in a good mood I will.) You are down to the wire, you left it too late and I can’t produce my best work under such tight deadlines.”

Setting boundaries is an inside job. People will cross the line if you never drew one to begin with. I have a strict phone usage policy (upcoming blog post) as a person and that policy may hurt your feelings sometimes but, “I’d rather be hated than inconvenienced.”

PS: Monday is a really bad day to text me. Sundays are a bad day for Mr. W.