Thanks for your response. I should have clarified regarding professional communications. I wasn't thinking of advertisements and such, but rather, interpersonal communications, which I liken to the messages on CM. I want to leave aside the professional comparison, though, since this isn't that world. When we present ourselves on CM and encourage people to write to us, we need to be open to those messages and be able to to respond, even if in the negative. I think that ignoring them as a means of showing one's not interested is simply inadequate. After all, if one composes a thoughtful message to someone, it's not really a cold call or advertisement. We're not going after someone's business, we're trying to begin a conversation that could lead to an intimate personal relationship. I think there is a dimension of charity here that doesn't exist necessarily in business dealings. We certainly aren't obligated to respond to all cold ad calls. But truly, is it that difficult to respond in the negative to someone's message on CM? It lets them know, and if they have taken the time to write something thoughtful, it shows equal effort. After all, why should it all be on that person? If they have truly crafted something that shows they read a profile and thought about the person, that takes time and effort, and emotional vulnerability in reaching out. Why should anyone believe that an adequate response to this is a "No" by virtue of ignoring? That seems completely unbalanced. Take the time, send something pleasant, even if canned, that lets the person know, and then everyone moves on.
I think what I haven't seen is a convincing argument why *not responding* is somehow just as acceptable as responding gently in the negative, or perhaps even superior to it. What I do believe is that, because these are online interactions, people get only too used to the easy dismissal of a message from someone they don't know, ignoring it rather than remembering a person is on the other end of the message and taking the time to respond. Perhaps a better comparison is to a social setting where someone comes up and introduces themselves in what is clearly a romantic overture (say, a classy and friendly offer to buy someone a drink), but not in a rude or unpleasant way (of course!). Would it be acceptable simply to turn around and walk away, or pretend the person wasn't speaking? I think not. Wouldn't most of us, even if it felt awkward, try to say something kind as a rebuff? We do this not only because ignoring someone who is acting respectfully in this manner is rude, but also because we recognize it takes courage to step out like that, and this courage should be met with some effort in return.
This is probably one of those issues where there will always be one group that responds, one group that ignores, and a few in between who might get swayed one way or the other. I hope that at least some reading my words might take up my position. I do not want to seem harsh or uncharitable to anyone else!
Thanks for your thoughts. I think that someone can be frustrated at a lack of responses in general because this lack indicates an overall attitude that views ignoring/not responding as an acceptable and balanced way of dealing with messages. As I point out in my second post, the effort should not all be on the sender. If someone has taken the time to read a profile, think about the person, and step out emotionally by writing a message, I believe it is not particularly charitable, and certainly not balanced, to believe that ignoring that message and not responding as a proper approach.
I do agree that one can become too emotionally invested in a particular person and get overly frustrated when they don't respond to an initial message, and that isn't healthy. That's not what I am discussing here, though, but you made a good point there. While we do want the "right" person responding, that doesn't let us off the hook of basic charity and manners.
Refusal to consider contact -- shutting the door, in effect -- does imply contempt, IMNSHO. There are plenty of nice folks you know you probably won't mesh with, but all you have to do is read profiles and think a little, not crush them with a rejection.
not crush them with a rejection.