It was a month into quarantine when I first downloaded Slowly. Prior to this, I had seen the app on the Play Store multiple times over the past 2 years, but each time, I would read the description and I would always be sceptical. Who in their right mind would wait up to 2 days just to receive a message when I can send a text and receive a response immediately?
I remember the day I downloaded Slowly quite vividly. Like before, I was on the Play Store and was telling my sister about the app that took forever to send messages when my sister confessed that she had used the app before. She told me that she had met people who had similar interests to her and that she had really enjoyed waiting for the letters. Though I was sceptical, I decided to download the app anyway and awkwardly sent out a few letters.
A day later, I opened the app to find that I had not received any letters. I wasn’t exactly expecting a long response to the message I had sent, but I was kind of upset to find that no one had replied, so I sent out a few more letters in the hope that someone would reply. The next day, I received my first response. It was a short, introductory letter, but it made me happier than any text message I had ever received. It was then that I realised why people used this app. It was the wait that made it worth it.
I continued sending letters, auto-matching every day. At one point, I was receiving so many letters that I was very overwhelmed, yet I tried to reply to each and every letter I received, even if it took me a while. Maybe it was because of this that my letters sometimes felt mechanical and curt. No one called me out on it, but many people would not reply back after a few letters. Naïvely, I merely assumed they had stopped using the app and I would ‘hide’ them as a way to declutter my friend list.
However, a friend recently asked me if I enjoyed our conversations, to which I replied I didn’t, since they felt very discontinuous and impersonal to me. But upon sending that letter, I realised that I had been doing the same thing to everyone I had been sending letters to. It was why some people stopped sending letters back to me. They didn’t enjoy the conversations we were having. Yes, there were some that had stopped using the app completely, but there was something fundamentally wrong with the way I was interacting with people on the app. I wasn’t taking the time to understand them, yet I expected them to be sincere towards me. I was a hypocrite through and through.
Since then, I have disabled auto-match. Auto-matching made it too easy to find new pen friends. It was too easy to send an almost-clinical first letter to someone that I had no clue about, especially since I wouldn’t see their profile until after I had sent the letter. I now try to take the time to understand my current pen friends deeply before reaching out for new relationships.
Slowly has made me re-evaluate how I view my relationships. It has made me consider whether I am being sincere in my relationships, both online and offline. It has made me realise that for a friendship to work, both of us must be sincere, especially on Slowly. I believe it has made me a better friend and for that, I will forever be thankful that Slowly is a part of my life.