In Italy, friendships are no joke. When two people are friends, they make an effort to talk to each other–on the phone– several times a week, keep in contact through texts and emails, and, of course, make plans to see each other in person as often as they can. While this seems very similar to the American friendship way, there is one glaring difference: Italians don’t neglect replying to their friends ASAP.
When I receive a text message, I usually don’t open it or reply to it as soon as I get it, unless it’s an emergency (throwing myself under the bus, here). This is true of many of my American friends, as well. Maybe it’s just in our culture to put conversations with friends on the back-burner. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve let text messages sit for several days before I reply to them. And forget talking on the phone with friends: with ‘so many things’ to get done, who has the TIME to converse with anyone?
Italians don’t think this way. In fact, they’ll call you out if you start being negligent. After three separate Italian people commented on my lack of replying to a text (of that same day, mind you), I shaped up real fast. It’s unthinkable to an Italian to not return a friend’s message, or answer the phone when it rings. Italians don’t duck around grocery store corners to avoid people they know, and they actually check their voicemails. Being around this attitude has made me reconsider my own.
Why DO we let messages from friends go unanswered? Why DON’T we treat electronic communication with the same type of respect as we do with face-to-face? Our friends are important to us– so why do we blow them off all the time?
I don’t know the answers. What I do know is that life is short; too short to ignore the people that matter to you. The Italians made me realize that you can and should keep up with your relationships on a very regular basis. I’ve been making an effort now to reply as soon as I can to texts and emails (no phone calls for me, being abroad and all that). It takes merely a few seconds of your day, and you’ll feel wonderful for it.
So make like an Italian and keep up with your friends. You only get so many, you know.