Dear Friends and Family, I’m sorry I’m e-hurting you…

I read the other day, in the New York Times, about the phenomenon of “hiding in plain e-sight”. Oh, yes, it’s such a “thing”.

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HIPES – as I’ll call it for expediency – is the act of hiding from people’s unanswered calls, texts and emails, seemingly unavailable and presumably offline, while being visible on social media (thus, clearly online).

HIPES, of course, leads to all kinds of modern relationship ills. And hurts.

As the journo who coined HIPES put it, “Almost any action we take on social media, even tapping a screen twice to form a thumbs-up or heart, is a time-stamped signpost that we were paying attention to at least some of our smartphone communication.”

So true.

Thusly, you have the sister who gets the shits because she’s seen you like someone’s Instagram photo or issue a Tweet or even comment on her own Facebook feed all since she left you a voicemail asking you to call her back to discuss Christmas plans.

And the old-school friend (or old person) who calls and leaves long voicemails and gets offended when the other person doesn’t call back, or doesn’t listen to the voice message first if they do call back. The fact is, some people haven’t yet got the memo that no one listens to voicemails and no one leaves messages any more. You call. If the other person doesn’t pick up, you text. Right?

And the lonely heart on Tinder… they leave an amour a message, hanging their heart out on a limb. They don’t get a reply for days, but know the Tinder crushee has read the message  – in part because Tinder notifies when a message has been read.

Then there’s the friend who shares something on Facebook and is awaiting your response. But they don’t realize you’ve turned off your email notifications. Or that they’ve posted to a fan page.

Most e-hurting stems from an odd prioritization where a phone call is deemed more effort than a tweet. Where interacting with strangers seems less cumbersome and demanding than connecting with a friend. Which is all yet another example of how technology has moved faster than our ability to deal with the emotional repercussions.

We can whine about this. Bleat. Despair. Or we can rise to the challenge of actually growing emotionally to meet the need.

I’ve been on both ends of the equation – hurt and the one who feels guilty for hurting. How do I cope?

I get clear on what my priorities are and where my e-boundaries lie. I use social media to emit information (mostly). I converse only on a professional level. That is, I don’t chit-chat on social media.  This offends strangers. But that’s my e-boundary.

I chit-chat with friends and family only. And when I do I pick up the phone. Only.

I also set aside clear time to talk on the phone. When there’s a good five minutes free.

I keep consistent with this.  This helps all involved.

I try not to go into e-lulls… where I descend into the social media vortex (usually around 9pm) and find myself breaking all the above boundaries.

I remember that everyone has different communication needs. And try to respect this.

I use moments of e-hurt as opportunities to practice non-attachment. I visually park the moment on a shelf, take a deep breath and smile at the situation. It’s a great cue!

I remember that everyone falls into e-lull at times – because it’s mind-numbing and easy and non-committal and non-demanding. And you can hide. Until you like someone’s photo!

Are you honest with how you go about your interactions? Got good boundaries?

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