THE BLOG

Where's the Out of Office Reply for My DMs?

30/03/2016 14:24 | Updated 30 March 2016

At the weekend, I did a Paloma Faith. I responded to a non-urgent work message in my Twitter DMs with: "Mate, it's Easter Sunday!" If it slipped through your Christmas cracks, Paloma controversially tweeted: "Please note: if I am on xmas holidays please do not ask me for a photo with you. My holidays end Jan 5th." She tweeted it in December 2010, but it continues to resurface, such was her audacity to take time off.

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On the one hand, I'll admit it - she sounded like a wanker. But on the other hand, don't we all need a break? I do. It's bad enough having emails coming through to my phone at 10pm on a week day, but then there's Twitter DMs at the weekend. Let me put this out there: if you're sliding into my DMs on a Saturday, I expect Block Bot grade flirting - I do not want to hear about a book launch.

Anyone who's a vague acquaintance, thinks they can fast-track a response by slipping in the back door of social media. To some extent, they're right. Once I see a message I'll respond, because until I do, it'll hang over my weekend like the stench of spilt sardines. However, it may not be the response the sender hoped for. Do I have any news moving forward, regarding an off-hand idea I once voiced aloud? No, I don't - and rather than risk you haranguing me, past cocktails o'clock on a Friday, let's shoot the idea dead, in the style of Al Pacino introducing his little friend.

You might say the answer is to switch off social media - but I like dicking about on Twitter. Watching First Dates or Question Time, without Twitter's running commentary, would be like going for a Chinese and turning down the fortune cookie. My Saturday mornings would be lacking without The Guyliner's assassination of Guardian Blind Dates. I'd miss hashtags like #OutBoastKanye and the heckling of LAD Bible journo requests: "We want to hear from people who are still virgins." Response: "Ask all of your staff."

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I'd laugh less without The DM Reporter's send-ups of the Daily Fail and Unnamed Insider's lampooning of Nigel Farage.

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So why should I sacrifice one of my favourite things, to avoid seeing messages from people who don't know when to switch off? In the main, I make it a rule not to follow back PRs, who try to pin me down to a date to check out their client list; or people I've met once, who want me to write about their hobby that only nine million other people in England do. But while Twitter restricts who can DM you, Instagram is a free for all. "These messages are from people you don't follow. They'll only know you've seen their request if you choose to Allow" it says, having already let them message you. You've read their message now, whether you'd have allowed it or not. It's too late - your Saturday is sullied.

As there's no fits-all-fix to prevent this, can we agree amongst ourselves not to hit each other up with grunt work at the weekend? The guy who messaged me on Easter Sunday isn't UK based, so he didn't know it was our Easter - but he did know it was Sunday. I'm calling for a blanket ban on phrases like: "I wanted to touch base with you." If you type them into a social media message at the weekend, sparks should shoot off your iPhone, and taser you in the tonsils.

Until technology advances enough to fulfil my darker dreams, can we all self-regulate, and block off that bit of time every week, to give each other a break? There may be occasional exceptions - but until you can call the fire brigade via Instagram, no message is that urgent.

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