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Facebook Read Receipt is Stressing Me Out

Facebook read receipt is stressing me out.  While it’s a great way for group owners to track who is really participating in a group and who isn’t even clicking over to read, for group participants, it adds a new layer of immediacy to every level of communication from leaving a comment to getting your bum over to the site to read everyone else’s thoughts in a respectable amount of time.

In the past, when a message came into my email inbox or news feed from one of the dozens of Facebook groups that I participate in, I would either click over and read only if I was semi-busy (coming back to comment later), or not read until later in the day when I knew I could give it my full attention and respond.  No one knew if I read it and then set it aside to comment on later, or if I hadn’t seen it at all.  And it made me feel unrushed.

But now the message comes into my inbox and this inner monologue begins:

Crap.  Another Facebook group message.  If I don’t click over now, I’ll be the 28th out of 28 people to see it, as I always seem to be.  How do other people read Facebook in real time?  Why am I the only person who can’t seem to get a hang of time-sensitive social media?  I bet everyone calls me Twenty-eight behind my back in that group.  How am I always last even if I only wait an hour?

Fine.  I’ll click over.  Great, I’m finally 7 out of 28.  Fantastic.  No one can call me Twenty-eight today.  Crap.  Now everyone knows that I read it.  But I don’t know what I want to say.  If I don’t say anything, I’ll seem cruel that I read this post and didn’t comment.  I mean, if I hadn’t read it yet, that would be the reason why I hadn’t written anything.  But now everyone knows I read it.

I need to get work done.  If I hang out here commenting, I’m not going to hit my work deadline.  So I’m either a dick to my workplace or I’m a dick to the people in this group.  Thanks, Facebook, for making me into a dick.

Gah, fine, I’ll just answer now.  I’ll just type up the first thing that comes to mind rather than giving this thoughtful consideration just so I can get it off my plate.  There.  Publish.  It’s up.  I can delete this stupid message and move on.  I hate being in Facebook groups.  I should just drop out of all Facebook groups because I don’t have the time to dedicate to them without apparently looking like an ass.  Shit.  Did I just get another message?  You have to be kidding me.  There’s now another message on the site?  I give up.

But I can’t give up because people will see that I JUST commented on the other message so I’m obviously online.  And now if I don’t click over for this one, people will think that…

What if blogs started logging every single person who read their post?  So the author would know exactly who was reading posts several days later or not reading them at all (or reading and not commenting)?  What if every email came with read-receipt, and you knew without a doubt what time the message was opened?  What if Twitter started telling you exactly which of your followers actually read each Tweet.  Metrics would be great for knowing who is paying attention, but can you imagine the performance anxiety on the part of the reader?

Of course, I may be wrong.  People may not judge others at all for reading their Facebook post without answering a question.  People may not care if the same person never sees their Tweets.

But I doubt that.

After all, what is the point of the metrics?  How many people would keep someone in a group if you knew without a doubt that they never clicked over to read?  How many people would keep following someone on Twitter who they thought was a mutual supporter if they received a message in black-and-white that the person never reads their Tweets?  How many people would get pissed waiting for an answer to a time-sensitive email if they knew the email had been read hours earlier?

I do get cranky when I send out an Evite and can clearly see that people opened the invitation yet never bother to RSVP.  So, no thank you, Facebook.  I’d rather not be able to track who exactly has read a posting.  Mostly because I don’t want to be tracked myself and the pressure that brings to act in the “now” instead of acting when I can give something my full attention on my time schedule.

What do you think of Facebook read receipt?  Or did you not realize this has been happening for the last few weeks because you haven’t checked in with a group to see it?

Cross-posted with BlogHer


1 JustHeather { 07.30.12 at 7:51 am }

That stressed me out just reading it! LOL
I belong to a few groups, some of which I look at the emails I receive daily and even go there to comment, while others, I can’t tell you the last time I stopped by. I had no idea this sort of read receipt thing was/is going on. Hmm, not sure I like it, but not sure if I can care enough about it to really do anything. 😀

2 Elizabeth { 07.30.12 at 8:11 am }

Sometimes I leave a comment saying “wow, so interesting. I’m going to have to come back and comment when I’ve had time to think about it some more.”

3 sharah { 07.30.12 at 9:12 am }

I did not know facebook read receipt existed until I read this.

4 a { 07.30.12 at 9:13 am }

I haven’t seen it yet. All it says to me is that people are obsessive sometimes. It is actually physically impossible to read and respond to every bit of whatever that comes out from other people’s brains. Now, I know that you are exceptionally good at doing it, but you are exceptional. Sometimes, you just have to say “I can’t do it all” and leave it at that.

I think the read receipt is for vital communications. Adding it to general posts to track members is a little too Big Brother for me…

5 sushigirl { 07.30.12 at 9:18 am }

I’m in a few and check in and out of them when I can be bothered. I’m not that fussed if it makes me last to read anything! Life’s too short.

6 tigger62077 { 07.30.12 at 10:46 am }

This is hurtful! It’s akin to reading a post and not leaving a comment. You know people read it – your stats will tell you that. Say you had 15 people visit that post and NO ONE left a comment – that hurts. And now? Now you’ll have posts in a group and everyone will read it but not everyone will leave a comment…and you’ll know who did and didn’t. Can you imagine the damage to a relationship because of that? Knowing who didn’t care enough to at least leave a hug or whatever? You’d start questioning your friendship/relationship with that person, and none of us need that. It’s a stupid, hurtful idea.

7 Manapan { 07.30.12 at 11:02 am }

I didn’t know groups were doing that now. But I do know that site statistics are why I don’t always click through to the main post from Reader. I always think that the author is going to see my hometown in the stats and and no comment from me and think, “well, that settles it. Manapan is an uncaring ass.” When really, what I want to do is click through, read, mark the post as unread, and come back later to comment after thinking about it. Instead I don’t click through until I have time to read and think and comment. Which often means that then I’m an uncaring ass for not bothering even to read. And I think that then it’s too late to comment. Now I have something else to be paranoid about. 😛

8 Sharon { 07.30.12 at 11:40 am }

I’m not crazy about this feature. And I don’t get notifications sent to me about things posted on Facebook, so I won’t even know anything’s been posted in one of my groups until/unless I happen to visit it. . . . and that could be days later.

9 Tiara { 07.30.12 at 1:08 pm }

I did not know this “feature” existed yet it reminds me more & more why I’m using FB less & less.

10 MrsTypeA { 07.30.12 at 2:42 pm }

ahhh! i did not know about this feature! it’s too much! i hate it when people look and don’t respond even though i’ve done it myself! we don’t need these feature to make our society even more stalker-ish 🙂 love your blog!!

11 loribeth { 07.30.12 at 2:54 pm }

I have seen it & while I’m not too stressed out about it (I don’t belong to that many FB groups, and really don’t care if I’m the first or 25th to read the post), I do see your point — particularly if the same idea applied to blogs.

12 magpie { 07.30.12 at 3:57 pm }

I didn’t know anything about it, and I’m in a number of groups that I do look at frequently-ish. So, I’m confused.

13 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.30.12 at 4:11 pm }

Inside your head has gone inside my head.

I have been avoiding clicking on FB updates. I wait for them to come into my emailbox, or I just watch a stream go by without refreshing my page. I hope that FB notices that people ike me have changed their viewing habits accordingly.

14 Brid { 07.30.12 at 5:27 pm }

I must be a different beast because one, I’m not on Facebook (therefore I don’t have to deal with all that stress), and two, no one has ever commented on my blog. But really, I couldn’t care less. Of course, no offense to those who value comments (perhaps I’d feel differently if I had a comment!), but I sort of see it as the difference between a university class and an online class. In an actual classroom, you have a number of students who will add value when they contribute to the discussions… and then you have others who take that value away. Luckily, in a classroom setting, there is usually only about 20 per cent of the students contributing; the rest are either listening and learning, or they are somewhere else. So, even when they aren’t commenting, they are still effectively participating. With an online course however, every student has to respond to the ideas/questions to be marked, or they are effectively and literally absent. I always found that having to read the comments from that 80 per cent who’d not normally comment was terribly painful, usually repetitive, not at all stimulating, and even sometimes embarrassing for the commenter. But, like Mel said when she wants time to consider her response, I will only comment if I am moved by a post, if I can find the words needed, or if I actually have something new to add to the conversation. Sometimes I’ll write a whole comment, then delete it instead of posting; inevitably, those actions are driven by insecurity and a lack of self-esteem.
It is interesting to hear about FB though… I often wonder if or when it will all blow up!

15 Justine { 07.30.12 at 10:50 pm }

I hate read receipt. It’s very big brother. Accusatory. “SOOOO, looky who’s not up to snuff …”

For the same reason, I have a really hard time keeping up with Twitter. I really WANT to keep up. But I’ve given up. Perhaps all of the savvy ladies I meet this weekend will help me figure out how to manage my social media overload …

16 St. E { 08.01.12 at 3:57 am }

I have no idea about those receipts…I went back to my account, but still couldn’t figure out where those receipts are presented.

I know that the people who come by, and the ones who actually have something to say on my blog are different. I would not want to know. I would not want to think that x could have said something and did not.

17 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 08.01.12 at 6:15 pm }

Don’t do FB and therefore not in any FB groups, so can’t comment on read receipt. I will say, though, that I sometimes check the view counts on videos I post of Burrito and Tamale. If it’s a medium or high number I have no idea who’s watched and not watched, but if it’s a very low number then I know that not even every member of the immediate family has watched, and I feel like, c’mon, you have 2 (or 4) grandchildren/nieces-nephews and you can’t watch a 30 second video about two of them?

18 persnickety { 08.02.12 at 12:17 am }

I did not know about this. Just another reason why I don’t use FB much anymore.
On a different note- i have a default request read receipt on my work emails. Most of the time it is irritating, but I occassionally send emails where it is important that the recipient read it, and I know that many people in my organisation do not. As it is usually a legislative change (example: the tax rate has changed, pls update the software) they may not come back to me, but I have ensured that they will not be able to come back to me and tell me they never received it.
But 99.9% of the time it is annoying. I cannot imagine why anyone would want that in their social life.
On my wordpress blog, I have not yet workd out how to track stats, so I don’t know how many read without commenting, but on my Blogger I have 2 different stats sources- and they tell me very different things.

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