Over-Reply Syndrome, and other afflictions.

Self diagnosis – I have ‘Over-Reply Syndrome’ (ORS). That is, I’m often unsure when to end a conversation on Twitter, Facebook, or when texting. To compensate, I end up uber-replying, most likely annoying my hapless recipients. It’s not as if I’m an extrovert, I’m probably more of an ambivert. But I’m definitely the uncool one who replied last, the one who’s left wondering ….

Yes, I know life is busy. Quickly rummaging in your handbag for your phone at a red light or pedestrian crossing, to discover someone has only  texted ‘thanks’, or 🙂 –  well, it’s a bit of a let-down for the inconvenience. But I’m a stickler for manners.

My husband has it down to a fine art. He gives me shorter and shorter replies, like XX, Yo, OK, K, to eventually nothing at all. It reminds me of how you’re supposed to train an over-exuberant puppy – don’t reward bad behaviour, just ignore it.

Social media and texting are neighbourhoods where Social-Cyber Paranoia can also flourish (SCP). With texting etc, I worry afterwards:

  • Perhaps my message was taken the wrong way, maybe that’s why they’re not replying?
  • Ooops, perhaps they took that joke about the neurotic and the bullfighter the wrong way?
  • Or, did I respond too soon – look too eager/needy/pushy?
  • Alternatively, what’s my polite excuse for taking so long to reply?
  • They didn’t answer my question in their reply – should I ask again?
  • Did I use too many exclamation marks? (Uncool???)
  • I hope that bit about my daughter getting a great exam result didn’t sound like I was boasting?
  • Did I really know the person well enough to give XX, even though they did it to me? Perhaps just one? Or just a smiley face this time?

These are symptoms of SCP, an ailment rarely diagnosed when one has access to other important cues – body language, voice tone, loud yawning, looking at the time, falling asleep, walking away (favourite daughter trick) etc.

Some claim that emoticons, capital letters, exclamation marks etc replace body language and tone. I must admit I do like the Twitter asterisks, eg.  *embarrassed*. But these cyber-navigational aids don’t replace body language for me.  Apparently, the human brain is busiest when interacting with other humans. Not when brains are calculating the distance around the Earth, how to cure diseases, or wondering what to have for dinner – interacting. So how is a limited choice of little cartoon people’s expressions (that I’m never 100% happy with) going to convey my message correctly?

People in American movies have no problems ending their conversations on the phone. They just omit the procedure altogether. I hold my breath, waiting for the inevitable display of Extra Phone Sensory Perception (EPSP), i.e. knowing when to end a call without needing to say goodbye. No one ever appears to be left hanging at the other end. Perhaps saying goodbye is omitted because it’s boring, film is expensive, I hear you say? It’s a courtesy, a social acknowledgement! Why are so many other mundane scenes left in? The watching aliens might even think our relationships are getting less intimate.

At the other extreme, the Amazon Princess can’t be the first to end a call with Dan the Man, going from romantic to awkward. I’ve yet to name this affliction  ….. I guess she has a ‘hang up’, ha ha.

You hang up.”

“No, you.”


“Go on, you.”


“I can’t, you.”

“I have to go!”

(Getting awkward)

“Then go.”

“You first.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love technology. It’s just giving me ORS and CSP.

Anyhow, time to signal off. Any thoughts?

Over and out.

Goodbye! *wavingandsmiling*

emoticon waving

This entry was posted in ambivert, American movies, body language, communicating, social media and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Over-Reply Syndrome, and other afflictions.

  1. Lee-AnneL says:

    Hahaha!!! Love this post!! *madly wondering if I have inserted too many exclamation marks* I relate to this syndrome very much. I tend to err on the side of good manners, even if I come across as needy or uncool *wincing a bit* 😀 I really do think that it’s difficult to get across all the nuances in social media, despite all the wonderful emoticons, asterisks and smiley faces… I’ve been taken literally (and no doubt offended) when I thought my text/post was laced with irony and sarcasm. 🙂 XXXOOO *thinking too affectionate*

    • Thank goodness I’m not the only one!! You’re so right, sarcasm and irony can easily be misinterpreted. Perhaps one could add a ‘sarcasm alert’ like the ‘language alerts’ before some songs on radio stations now. Kisses and hugs to you too!! XXOO See, I bet you’re counting them! 🙂

  2. HazMo's Mama says:

    As an angsty scorpio, I totally hear you! Thankfully my aversion to social media (participating in, that is, not to be mistaken with lurking about on said sites to amuse self) means that I have less angst about this than perhaps I otherwise would. I have trained myself out of jumping to reply to every text I get, though I suspect this is actually because I’m more disorganised than I ever was.

    But, I’m a great believer in manners and tone, even in the shortest texts/emails. And I loathe (LOATHE) emoticons and ridiculous (bad)”text” spelling. Probably I am just old before my time….

    Oh, and you don’t have to reply to this comment! xx

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