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I have a habit online I need to moderate. It's good most of the time, but there are inappropriate times I need to make sure I don't fall into.

Very often I'll see a blog posting or an email which I feel like replying to, but it'll already have lots of replies which basically say what I would have said. For instance, on the polyamory LJ community you'll occasionally get someone saying something like "I just found out that my partner has been sleeping around without protection without telling me, in violation of the agreements we had. What should I do?", and about 10-20 replies of "Dump the mother-fucking asshole" (or, more commonly, DTMFA).

In such cases, I'll look at the replies, and feel "I have nothing to add which hasn't already been said." I don't see how my being the 21st voice to chime in with DTMFA is going to add anything to the conversation, so I don't say it. Similarly, I feel no need to be the 5th person explaining the origin story of Spiderman, or the 13th person to say that the original poster is not the only one with characteristic X, etc. So I don't reply. I feel that this restraint is a good habit.

Where it fails is when it gets extended to things like not seeing a point in being the 10th person to say "Happy Birthday" or "*hugs* I'm sorry for your hardship" or "Get well soon" and so on. Here, despite using the exact same words as someone else an implicit part of the message is that it's coming from *me*, and that's not something that the others saying the same words can convey. So the feeling of "someone else said it first, and better than I could" is not warranted. I need to learn to overcome it in those circumstances.

So, if I've failed to respond to an LJ where congratulations, sympathy, or similar expressions of emotional interpersonal connectedness are expected, it's probably not because I'm intentionally snubbing you. Please make allowances for that. I'm going to try to work on it.

(It also occurs to me that parsing out social customs and setting rules for myself along these lines sounds like coping mechanisms of highly-functioning autism, but that's an uneducated self-semi-diagnosis, so it doesn't count.)

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I think what you're describing is at times just the nature of the internet. Despite all the social networking, it's still impersonal and the words we type to someone, regardless of how much they mean to them, are quick, easy, and not as meaningful as a phone call, letter, or even an email or text. They're often lost in a pile of other words from other people or in ten pages of Farmville requests. On the flip side, while some people never read them, some do go through and individually respond to everything.

If a friend has a birthday or something big happen in their life, I'd say the personal message, even if just through Facebook/Livejournal or email would feel like more on your part and mean more to them.

You could always email them directly.

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