When People Don’t Respond to Your Being Nice to Them

I’ve been making it a habit to tell writers, musicians, actors, comedians and other people whose work I enjoy that I actually enjoy it.

I’ll usually send them a tweet or maybe even look up their email address and just say — “Hey, thank you for this. Really liked that thing you did. Great job!”

The odd thing that I’ve noticed is that a lot of people don’t reply. They don’t say, “Hey, appreciate the kind words!” or “Thanks so much!”

Nothing.

Occasionally I’ll get reply. Usually from someone who is almost famous, just on the precipice of blowing up, or someone super famous, who has already blown up. But mostly I find that I’m ignored. It’s an interesting thing, particularly nowadays, when you hear far more about the way people use social media to abuse others.

I didn’t initially start sending these thank you notes to people for any acknowledgment on their behalf. It was just my way of saying that in this day and age, when it’s hard to get noticed, I noticed you and I appreciate your artistic contribution to planet earth.

It was only after a few weeks of doing this that I realized how rarely anyone would reply. It made me raise an eyebrow. Like, hmm. What’s going on here?

I was reading a book about The Clash last night, and in the introduction the editors write that the despite the band’s short 7 years together, “they always made themselves available for interviews, always allowed fans backstage to meet and talk.”

Perhaps it’s no surprise that The Clash is one of the most beloved bands of all time.

A woman I used to work with at AOL is one of the biggest Bruce Springsteen fans I ever met in my life. In fact, when I interviewed for my job there, we spent half the interview talking about Bruce Springsteen.

She’s an older woman now, but told me she saw Bruce out somewhere in New York City not long before then. “We met thirty years ago,” she told him.

Bruce Springsteen remembered that night. Bruce Springsteen remembered her.

Another time when I worked at MTV, my boss’s husband had been hired to write a bio for Will Smith. This is Men in Black, Independence Day Will Smith, right around the time when Will Smith had every reason to be a dickhead to anyone he wanted.

Celebrities hate doing bios because they’re time consuming and they have to talk about their life. They’ve already said that stuff a million times.

But sure enough Will Smith called their apartment at the appropriate time. He asked to speak to her husband by name, knew all about him, almost like Will Smith was going to be interviewing him. Right there on the phone, they became fast friends.

I can go on and on with stories. I’m not even talking about my own experiences with major celebrities right now.

Point is, it’s very obvious why some people are beloved and good things happen for them. They make people who they don’t even know feel like best friends. They’re appreciative.

I know we’re on the internet and we have a million interactions with a million different people and nobody knows who this one is or that one is.

But if someone says something nice to you, maybe just shoot them a quick reply to say thanks. Many of the people I’m sending notes to aren’t even celebrities. They’re just regular ass people. They have no excuse to be ignoring anyone.

Take two seconds out of your life to say thanks. It’s the least you can do.

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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