I have a confession to make. I often fail to reply to people who email or message me with invitations, requests, and questions. I have an excuse, of sorts. I have many demands on my time and haven’t been in the best of health. But I feel guilty about it.
I am particularly bad at replying to messages that pose philosophical questions. Replying to such a message takes time and thought — especially if the question is a good one — and I often put it off, though fully intending to reply at some point. And then, of course, more messages come in, and my to-reply list grows longer and longer. The senders must think I am just ignoring them.
Why don’t I at least send a short acknowledgement, saying that I have received the message and will reply if and when I have time? I have thought of doing this, but the danger is that it would make me even less likely to write a full reply. Having sent the acknowledgement, I might feel that I’d dealt with the matter and could forget it. By contrast, If I don’t reply at all I feel guilty, and the guilt does sometimes push me to reply properly.
So here’s a message to anyone who has written to me and not received a reply:
First, I am sorry; please accept my apologies.
Second, please don’t think that I felt your message wasn’t worth a reply. The chances are it was just the opposite: I felt that it deserved a long and careful reply, which I just didn’t have time to write.
Third, please feel free to re-send your message. I won’t be annoyed and will reply eventually!