As the topic of the right to disconnect makes its way to parliament and the EU, debates have ensued online regarding the ethics behind online messaging apps and the code which people should follow when it comes to using them.
In this case, a poll on the popular Facebook group The Salott posed a question on the same vein as the right to disconnect and asked for people’s opinions on whether they thought it was rude to read a WhatsApp message and not reply to the sender.
Whilst the poll itself is more on the lines of ignoring someone’s message completely, the answers given both in the poll and comment section show some differing takes on the subject, with a good chunk of people suggesting that one isn’t obliged to reply to messages straight away as they might have other things going on at the time.
The majority of people, however, agreed that it was rude for people not to reply to a message that they’ve read. There were also some who admitted that they sometimes read messages but forget to reply.
“Just because it was convenient for you to send a message, does not mean it’s convenient for others to reply,” someone commented on the poll.
Ultimately, it seems like there’s an unwritten code with regards to what is considered an acceptable time frame to reply to messages, which relates to whether people have a right to disconnect or not.
Last month, when addressing the EU, newly-elected MEP Alex Agius Saliba brought up the right to disconnect in relation to work-life balance and whether there were any plans to implement the right for the entire bloc.
“I believe that there is a growing need to establish “the right to digitally disconnect” in order to create the much-needed boundary between work, home and private life and provide the quality of work-life balance employees deserve and need.”
“The new communication technologies and the flexibility in work organisation can often lead to longer working hours and overlap between work, private lives and personal time. The mere expectation of being in contact 24/7 is enough to increase stress on employees and their families.”
As technology advances, society becomes more connected and social boundaries become blurred. There is clearly a debate on the proper use of online messaging platforms, which is dividing people and leaving some hurt that they’re getting the ‘read’ treatment.