Unpopular opinion: inbound communication to you–via email, text, social media, call, etc– from someone who is not a currently-active business relation, or close personal relation (however you define that), entails ZERO responsibility or commitment to respond, unless you want to. If they get upset at no communication, it’s understandable, but ultimately, you can’t take that on- it’s on them.
Not saying it never makes sense to respond to unsolicited communication from distant contacts, or strangers. Just saying that you really have no responsibility to whatsoever. Having met at a party and become Facebook friends, doesn’t entail a commitment to respond to that person right away, or at all, for years after the party. This is crazy-making for all of us!
“Back when I was a kid,” and you met someone at a party, or at a backpacker hostel in Europe or whatever, you might end up with a phone number scribbled on a scrap of paper. (For a landline! Which may or may not have even had an answering machine attached to it! Thirty-somethings and above, remember messages for people, delivered to whichever roommate answered? Remember guilt at your unanswered personal snail-mail letters, as you didn’t have time to write a minimum pagelong handwritten letter back and drop it off at the mailbox?)
When you met someone, you definitely wouldn’t end up with an immediate digital connection to someone’s pocket, and/or public social media connection, for years to come, along with an expectation of immediate always-on response.
When did people get the idea that, because they meet someone casually, or write or communicate to someone they don’t know super well, they are owed a response? How did becoming Facebook friends with someone, which is often done very casually and spur-of-the-moment with strangers or near-strangers, come to mean a commitment to be in touch for eternity? Good for Facebook, not good for our sanity!