The unspoken social media rule that's ruining every millennial relationship.

Rejection hurts. That’s not a new thing.

But now, to avoid this at all costs, millennials are presenting themselves online as disinterested and detached, even if they feel the exact opposite.

If you haven’t heard, nonchalance is the epitome of cool, and I am completely unversed in the art of it.

In the real world, when someone doesn’t really care about or is unwilling to put effort into having a conversation with you, they make it clear. They’ll divert eye contact or barely make any, fill their responses with ummms and ahhhs instead of genuinely thought out replies, and perhaps even give you the antagonising cold shoulder.

But online, it’s a whole other story.

Reading body language, gauging facial expressions – it’s a near-impossible feat, and a soon to be extinct one.


Hence, this absurd rule. Much like the name ‘Voldemort’, no one outwardly speaks of it, but its existence is very much omnipresent.

The guidelines are simple: If it takes someone, say, 4 hours to reply to your message, you must wait four hours or more before responding.

Why? One word. COOL.

But it doesn’t stop there, as I found out.

The rule not only applies to someone you are romantically interested in. It apparently applies to friends as well.

Why? Because COOL.

Admittedly, I’ve unknowingly been a perpetrator of this rule due to the pressure of conforming to generally accepted millennial behaviour.

However, I’ve come to learn that the process of getting to know someone is never “cool”, or free from awkward hiccups.


And it shouldn’t be. Hiccups make relationships tangible and fun. They make relationships, well… relationships.

Listen to GROUP THERAPY: How long should you wait until you sleep with someone? (Post continues after audio.)

Completely unconfirmed folklore says the rule first took off during digital interactions with potential love interests or crushes. If you liked someone, you didn’t want to come off as the more invested of the two.

“No, my eyeballs have not been glued to my phone 24/7 to the point of potentially long-term vision impairment… See; I waited 7 hours, 12 minutes and 30 seconds!”

However, like most simple things, this rule has since evolved and spread to new territory.

Just last week, I was on my merry way to reply to a message received from a newly made friend. The fresh message in my inbox was a rare and joyous occasion, so I responded promptly.

Days – what felt like years – went by.

She finally responded, but I understood the delay. She’s a busy girl, I told myself optimistically. Me, on the other hand, am not, unless you call lounging on the couch all day a demandingly eventful lifestyle. So, I reached for my phone for yet another prompt response on my part.

But my friend, who was co-lounging with me at the time, reached over and whacked the phone out of my hand.

She explained to me that the texting rule was applicable to all interactions, romantic or purely platonic. Apparently, rapid responses put you at risk of seeming desperate, which is not the image we want to display as “cool” millennials.



Of all the millennial nonsense I’ve endured as a member of the much maligned society, this one takes the cake. Talking to someone, online or not, should be about enjoying a sincere conversation amongst good company, not about image.

social media rule that's ruining millennial friendships and relationships
Looking like you care is sooooo last century. *Takes selfie* Image: Getty.

We accuse Instagram celebrities of being false, but perhaps we should look to ourselves first, and at our own interactions that are becoming increasingly unnatural over time.

Please, millennial to millennial; just respond to my messages when you see them.

I might not be up to your standard of "cool", but I’m a quality – ok, above average – friend. I promise.

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