Right, let’s get this straigtened out here.
In our modern, hectic lifestyles, we have adopted numerous methods of communication through which we can convey messages with varying degrees of delay. I seek to propose a standard socially imposed delay hierachy, of which the respected response time is relative to the reasonable delays for the items above and below it.
‘posts’ on social networking sites -> letters -> e-mails -> SMS’ -> instant messengers -> VOIP -> telephone
This is simply explained. Telephone and VOIP are immediate environments, in which a conversation is conducted in a similar way to face-to-face. VOIP is separated here, as it is often subject to longer delays than telephone due to it often being utilised whilst the users are busy doing other things.
Text-based messengers are similar immediate environments, but due to the nature of typing, tend to be slower anyway. They allow for more room for thinking, but response should not be overly lengthly. Oh and importantly; if you forget to reply, a late reply with an apology is far far better than pretending it never happened!
SMS’ can be used to conduct a conversation, but are costly and warrant longer responses. Generally a reply within an hour or so is good, but allowing for people not keeping their phones in their hands 24/7, and disparagy between individual lifestlye timetables, a longer response time is generally deemed reasonable.
E-mails are of course not expected to have an instant reply, but it is common practice to check e-mails regularly, and so a reply within a few days is customary. Voicemail messages could be included within this category area.
Letters should of course be dealt with as soon as possible, but require time to write and of course postage time. Longer distance means longer waits, and so up to two weeks is perfectly reasonable, and indeed once a month correspondance could be an acceptable norm.
As for a post on a social site, this is not a direct communication but more a message left for someone to read. Often it does not need a reply, but if it does, it should be as and when the message is checked, depending on the user’s own habits.
In this I have included offline instant messages as being more like text messages or e-mails, as they are not instant communication, and other individual cases such as a text message that is merely a note for someone would be lower in the hierachy, or an urgent letter being higher.
Happy now, Dan? I’m to bed.