Communication styles online have unspooled way faster than anyone can make sense of them. Only recently did people figure out there are stereotypically “male” and “female” ways on communicating on Slack that are essentially ruining people’s lives because of the way they clash—men tend to be terse and blunt and women tend to be empathetic and enthusiastic, but both expect each other to be the opposite way. I have a different problem, which is that when my boss slacks me “hi!”, and only “hi!”, my blood pressure shoots through the roof as I wait for her to say something else and she doesn’t, at which point I enter a catatonic state.
She did this the other day and my heart immediately began racing. Why? I’m not sure. All she did was say hi, a perfectly legal and normal thing for anyone to say to anyone else — people you know, people you don’t know. It's maybe the only thing literally anyone can say to anyone else without consequence.
It has at least partly to do with the fact that conversations online never really end or begin, so it’s immediately alarming that she is not just saying the thing she ostensibly intends to tell or ask me. It’s botlike, like she wants to be sure first that I am there, the “shut the door and have a seat” of messages, before she launches into some exchange that she knows I won’t like.
“Hi” implies “I need to have a full conversation with you that you’re going to be present for,” which is never good. Once I respond, if she responds to my response fast enough, I can’t theoretically pretend to not have seen what she just said, because I was literally physically JUST there, responding; no one responds and then immediately logs off. Once I respond, she has me, but I don’t know what for. It’s like she has laid a trap that is very obviously a trap that I have to now just walk into knowing I’m about to get lit up for something. Except that I don’t, really, because all she said was “hi!”
All she wanted was for me to fix a misspelling of a source’s name in a piece. So I’m sorry, Erika, that I didn’t punctually respond to your “hi,” I was very busy having a heart attack.