kaberett: Euphorbia cf. serrata, green crown of leaves/flowers central to image. (spurge)
[personal profile] kaberett
The good Captain has several times now recently said "assume that if people don't get back to you/respond to contact that you should back off", and I am having problems with this for all the obvious reasons, namely:

1. I am terrible at responding to e-mails, particularly during depressive flares. One of the things I am genuinely enormously proud of is that I now respond to the vast majority of e-mails I receive within an hour of getting them, as opposed to letting them languish for three weeks unread, even the terrifying ones. This doesn't mean I don't want people in my life.

2. ... I have a whole lot of friends who do very similar things, including two or three of the people I consider among my closest friends, who routinely do not respond to text-based comms because of anxiety or depression or elsewise lack-of-cope.

3. ... and my at-this-point-instinctive reaction to a lack of response (and one I stop coping with if the lack-of-response rate goes above about 30%, even if it's "to pings on IM when I know our clients don't play nice" and even if it's "someone I'm dating who has made it very clear that they feel positively toward me") is "this person clearly hates me and I should disappear from their life as completely as possible with immediate effect", which is (see above) almost never the right answer.

This is one of the reasons DW/LJ works for me so well as a platform - I get to keep in gentle approximately-continuous touch with an awful lot of amazing people and let them know how I'm getting on, without triggering my comms anxiety.

I know I need to keep working on 3 - "I haven't heard back from this person and it's been TWO WHOLE HOURS, clearly they want to ERASE ME FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH, I am the WORST THING EVER" is obviously a disproportionate response - but the thing that the Captain's making me a little edgy about is how to balance giving people-in-general enough space with known factors 1 and 2.

For my own part I try very hard to make sure I say "if I do not reply to your e-mail it is because my memory's shit, if I haven't got back to you by date X please feel encouraged to remind me, I'm sorry about the extent to which this requires you to do extra work"; I try very hard to be someone it is easy to say no to -- but obviously that doesn't mean I succeed.

I suspect that my perspective on this is pretty alien to a lot of people, hence the ?inapplicability of the Captain's advice; I wish I knew what the middle ground in this situation looks like.
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Date: 2014-09-04 11:06 pm (UTC)
randomling: Buffy and Willow cast a spell. (Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) (buffy and willow)
From: [personal profile] randomling
...yes this.

I do not have more useful words right now.

But yes. Me too. To lots of that.

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Date: 2014-09-04 11:26 pm (UTC)
lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (Default)
From: [personal profile] lizcommotion
Yes this, too.

One issue I am having with an in-person-met friend at the moment is that we haven't talked for about a year, and I don't know if that's (a) she's mad at me for something completely trivial and wtf why; (b) she IS generally terrible at communication of ALL sorts including phone/email/social-media; (c) something awful/wonderful happened in her life that is all-consuming (depression, a bunch of her patients died, new significant other!, she moved!, she is an undercover agent and her cover changed?, etc.); (d) I legit did something that rubbed her the wrong way and she is avoiding me but I have no idea and no way to apologize if that is a thing I should do; (e) she is just doing the slow fade and I should accept the African violet gracefully.

Unfortunately, since there IS no way to reach her right now and get a response through traditional things like texts or email or anything, my avenues are: (1) reach out to mutual friends and see if something's up; (2) drive by her house (if it is still her house) and knock on the door (potentially creepy especially if she IS mad; definitely don't bring a boombox with a cheesy song).

Complicated by the fact that we have had previous conversations like, "I'm so glad you understand how busy life can be; people keep thinking I'm mad at them when I don't call them back." Me: "Whatever, I know life happens."

So, um, yes, MANY SHADES OF...something that is not grey because that makes me think of that book.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-09-04 11:26 pm (UTC)
lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (cat stare)
From: [personal profile] lizcommotion
also I feel like a text and photo of my new cat would have gotten SOME response so maybe she is stuck down a well and needs help? IDEK

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Date: 2014-09-04 11:38 pm (UTC)
karen2205: Me with proper sized mug of coffee (Default)
From: [personal profile] karen2205
Possibly not sequential bullet points coming:

* Replying to email within an hour = possibly too fast, because it puts the onus on the other person to continue the conversation when they may have been communicating and expecting a gap before a response. Depends on what the conversation is about/the urgency of it, but I don't think an email response time that's that fast is inherently a Good Thing. In most circumstances it isn't a bad thing, but sometimes it might be.

* You get control over which bits of communication you respond to and when you do that - one of my bits of feeling hesitant about replying to email within an hour is that if you're trying to hold yourself to that standard it may interfere in you trying to do other things/organise other bits of life [and for some subjects a slower, more considered response can be better]

* Sometimes swapping modes of communication can help - if I'm emailing someone with 5-6 emails backwards and forwards that are a sentence long (usually clients when I'm at work), it's sometimes easier for me to phone them, rather than continue exchanging short emails, depending on what we're discussing/if it's a complicated concept that's easier to explain when I can hear what's confusing them.

* Some people have nearly continual email access when awake, not everyone does and people's expectations for responses will be based on that.

* My standards are to not expect a response to an email within twenty four hours at the very minimum. If it's something that needs a faster response, I can try an email but be prepared to text/phone/do something else to signal that a quicker response is needed. I don't usually expect replies to text messages within twenty four hours either.

* I don't necessarily think waiting three weeks for a response to an email is that bad - again depending on subject [I can see there's a difference between email that you're finding too scary to read for three weeks and email that you've read and haven't got round to dealing with for that long - I regularly have email that's in the latter category].

* People's lack of/delayed responses are usually because of things internal to them not to you [and I know you know that] - be kind to yourself. I only get worried about lack of replies to emails when I've sent things that are highly personal or about difficult topics and I'm fearing a negative reaction. For me, sometimes it's better to not try to have such conversations by email, sometimes it's better to ask for acknowledgement that my message has been received and I will get a reply at some point.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-09-05 01:06 am (UTC)
skygiants: Kyoko from Skip Beat! making a mad flaily dive (oh flaily flaily)
From: [personal profile] skygiants
Heh, yeah, I have the problem where I'll think 'responding in an hour is too soon! I'll get back later today/tomorrow so they won't feel pressured by IMMEDIATE RESPONSE' and make myself a mental sticky note to actually write that response ... and then the mental sticky note doesn't actually cause me to do anything useful, because, like, I dealt with that, didn't I? I made a mental sticky note about it! So I'm trying to accept that just responding within the hour is sometimes what I have to do to make sure it gets done.

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Date: 2014-09-04 11:45 pm (UTC)
jjhunter: Watercolor of daisy with blue dots zooming around it like Bohr model electrons (science flower)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
And this would exactly why, once I get to know a person beyond the degree of acquaintance, I make an explicit point of having some version of the 'plz tell me about your communication styles + preferences & I will be super up front about mine in return' conversation.

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Date: 2014-09-04 11:51 pm (UTC)
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jenett
I tend to be pretty explicit about "If I don't manage to answer you, you have probably dropped off my radar unless I have *said* something about how I'm not likely to answer you."

When dealing with other people, and I'm not sure (because thankfully a lot of the people I want to talk to are pretty explicit about "Yeah, life is overwhelming sometimes, it's not you.") I usually do several contacts at increasing spacing and via at least two modes with the last one being a "Hey, I'm going to assume you're not getting back to me unless/until you do, just so you know, but if you want me to keep pinging, I am also good with that. Send whatever form of communication to indicate that you like."

Which gives me a sense of closure, and makes it really clear that a) I'm not likely to try again and b) what they can do to change that if they want.

(I am also pretty fierce about modes of contact: had someone ask to talk on the phone tonight, and I just can't because ugh. I find phone tremendously disruptive to my life on a good day, even with the couple of people I really want to talk to, and this is a better day than yesterday, but 'good' would be a serious stretch.)

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Date: 2014-09-04 11:54 pm (UTC)
ysobel: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysobel
Me too.

Sometimes I even find it hard to communicate *because* of how much I like/respect someone. Where awkward silence is not a no, it's me not wanting to fuck up.

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Date: 2014-09-05 09:29 am (UTC)
sfred: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sfred
*nodnodnod*
Yes, this.

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Date: 2014-09-05 12:06 am (UTC)
sylvaine: Dark-haired person with black eyes & white pupils. (Default)
From: [personal profile] sylvaine
Thiiiiiiiis. I'm getting better at replying to things somewhat promptly, but I still sometimes forget/avoid for a year+. /o\ & it's definitely not that I want that person to leave me alone, just that I'm shit at replying to things & communication is a big scary thing.

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Date: 2014-09-06 01:14 am (UTC)
geekosaur: orange tabby with head canted 90 degrees, giving impression of "maybe it'll make more sense if I look at it this way?" (Default)
From: [personal profile] geekosaur
Severe autism means scared of communication a lot. :( I fail this way far too often, between autism itself and its effect on my executive function (and so, they reinforce each other and I fail even more....)

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Date: 2014-09-05 03:38 pm (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
*general noises about comment culture posts and/or "open threads", if'n it helps*

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Date: 2014-09-05 12:22 am (UTC)
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] redbird
One thing that occurs to me is that the Captain's advice is probably most relevant with a new acquaintance who might become a friend, or if you want to move to a closer relationship. With someone who is already a friend, or already a partner, that suggestion of lunch out or some other activity doesn't have the "because I want to get to know you" subtext.

None of this is perfect; we don't have a set of agreed-on communications protocols where we can start with 'HELO' and from there unambiguously and relatively quickly either find a suitable channel, or agree that we're not communicating right now. That in turn is partly because not all the players are honest: even the best communications system will break down in the face of people sending messages and then denying them, and/or ignoring received messages because it gives them some kind of actual or perceived advantage over the sender.

I do think that what you describe, of explicitly telling people when/how your ways of communication work, is likely to help a lot among people of good will. It's not perfect—for example, it won't resolve the cases where communication fails because A and B are using the same words differently and each wants to believe that the other understands and agrees with them. (But even there, it might help with recovering from "but you said X! I thought you meant Y, not Z!"

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Date: 2014-09-05 12:30 am (UTC)
fyreharper: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fyreharper
Augh, yes - another one for the 'typically not good at sending responses to things, especially in a timely manner' crowd here :waves a hand:

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Date: 2014-09-05 12:36 am (UTC)
thefairymelusine: line drawing of a knight lying by a bank of flowers (Default)
From: [personal profile] thefairymelusine
Am also not great at working out what level of contact makes sense without response: mostly this means I text the inner circle of people who are open to receiving random communiques from me at any point A LOT, and find other contact difficult. (I have just about trained myself out of the "CLEARLY THIS PERSON WANTS ME TO VAPORISE, NOW" response, but not entirely).

And wow, at your email response rate. I need to work out a better replying to email system as I still let most things languish.

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Date: 2014-09-05 12:39 am (UTC)
jedusaur: Stephen Fry as Jeeves with his hands held to his face. (jeeves facepalming)
From: [personal profile] jedusaur
I hope I didn't trigger this over the weekend. I tried to be explicit that I wouldn't have much time/brain, but I know especially with sensitive stuff that's not always enough.

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Date: 2014-09-05 01:30 am (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
1. I am terrible at responding to e-mails, particularly during depressive flares. One of the things I am genuinely enormously proud of is that I now respond to the vast majority of e-mails I receive within an hour of getting them, as opposed to letting them languish for three weeks unread, even the terrifying ones.

Three weeks? Try 18 months! (And he's a good friend). I've gotten terribly messed up over email in the past few years, mostly as a spin-off of DWP-anxiety I think - which is ironic as DWP are thoroughly stuck on snail-mail. I think the online job-hunt stuff triggered an association my brain can't work around. (And it doesn't help I'm trying to retire the laptop I use for email, so am getting to it even less often).

I've started asking people to tweet me if they email me, just so I know I have a reason to venture into the jungle of my email folders, I can't guarantee I'll get to it any other way.

I think that piece of advice may be completely wrong for people like us with a lot of non-neurotypical/anxiety-prone/otherwise non-conventionally reacting people in our circles of acquaintances.

(Can't figure out a way to phrase the next para without over-analogizing our similarity of experience, I think there clearly is an overlap in how we're experiencing/reacting to this stuff, but I'm not trying to say it's identical even if the words are coming out that way).

I think you have to look at 1 and 3 as in some way mirroring/being antithesis of each other. Our difficulty in responding may well be reciprocated on the other side of the communications-fail, and beating ourselves up over it isn't going to resolve the comms-fail, just exacerbate it. And the beating ourselves up may well be feeding off the anxiety over replying in the first place. It may be that we can't resolve the comms-fail, that we have to leave it in place, but I know I'm lousy at this stuff, so I try and keep that in mind while thinking 'wah, no one responded'!

It's clear from the replies there are a lot of us out there (and even more so in here and likely to communicate with each other) who just aren't great at the comms thing, which is another nail in the coffin of that piece of advice.

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Date: 2014-09-05 03:52 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] foxfinial
My partner is incredibly prone to not responding due to brain-things, which has got a bit argh for me in the past, but it definitely doesn't mean a loss of interest in our relationship. For example!

Communication is way more complex than the dynamic the Captain is describing, and I really haven't figured out how it works, but yeah, you're definitely not alone in this.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-09-05 05:03 am (UTC)
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
From: [personal profile] firecat
I've noticed for a while now that the Captain doesn't always give great advice for people who have serious depression issues. I also go radio silent at times and have probably lost potential friends over it, although I fortunately have close friends who get it and are able to pick up where we left off however long it's been.

I like your disclaimer and it would help me to read that if I were not sure what someone's silence meant.

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Date: 2014-09-05 05:28 am (UTC)
shehasathree: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shehasathree
Yeeeeah.

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Date: 2014-09-05 05:56 am (UTC)
surpassingly: (Default)
From: [personal profile] surpassingly
Same, um, and I have an email that I've owed you for a while now, but also, <3333333

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Date: 2014-09-05 06:13 am (UTC)
sfred: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sfred
Oh, blimey, this is so absolutely The One Post I needed to read at the moment. Thank you for a kick in the right direction. (I have been doing 3 very hard.)

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Date: 2014-09-05 09:50 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] swaldman
I am curious, if this isn't too inquisitive... is it specifically email that you find problematic, or is it text-based stuff, or asynchronous stuff, or...? And, any idea why?
(if you'd rather not go into it, or if you have no idea, fair enough)

I have a number of friends who don't tend to respond to async communication, and the only way to get a response is to phone them, or find them on an IM or some sort.... this has an unfortunate interaction with some other people, myself included, who *prefer* things to be asynchronous. To me the value of email is that it doesn't demand my attention at the sender's whim, and I can respond to it as and when. Some folk do seem to have a different expectation, especially in business contexts, but.... fortunately I am not in a profession where I have to adhere to their expectations of immediate replies. But this is why sometimes if people ask me or tell me things on IRC, I'll respond with "can you email me that?".

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Date: 2014-09-05 10:26 am (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
Basically I suck at responding to people much *anyway*, because time that is not-work and not-children and not-exhausted is pretty limited and sometimes I prioritise and sometimes I just do what is easiest, and sometimes that means I miss out on stuff, and basically I've just come to accept that I do what I can and that has to be enough.

Smartphones mean I can read (which I do MUCH more than writing). I hate typing for any length on the phone, but sadly I'm with whoever it was wrote the thing about not having time to write a short letter. Composing a short-enough-to-type-on-phone thing is usually harder for me than writing a comment this length on a full-size keyboard.

If I can respond to an email instantly I will. Otherwise I'll do it when I can, and I try to do time-sensitive stuff first, and some things get left for weeks. E.g. all the lovely comments on my post re autism diagnosis which I need to get back to except they need me to have time and brain and keyboard all at the same time.

I am even worse about responding to texts or answerphone messages (and if I am busy or out of cope for people then I will divert all phone calls to messages and check the messages afterward) although again, I try to pick up on time-limited urgent stuff when I'm prioritising.

None of this means I hate the other person; I am sure it annoys (some of?) my correspondents, but unless we have an actual conversation about it I am not going to apologise on every communication for my inability to have much time to communicate.

I think where we differ is your 3. I don't get the same feeling if people aren't getting back to me, partly because I feel I'm getting back to people so badly myself. I basically just aim for something similarly-balanced without actually counting messages in and out. You know, not sending three emails when they have only sent one back (unless I was chasing for a thing that I needed).

But then I don't do IM much, I've pretty much given up on twitter, and I mostly hate phone calls and am not great with text messages. I strongly prefer email with an expectation of asynchronicity.

"backing off" I would probably take as exponential. So I might try something after a day and then a week and then a month and then maybe if there's an event of mutual interest in the next six months I might drop a line, and then do the Seasonal Winter Holiday Contact (which actually I suck at and have done incredibly erratically since children arrived). And if someone I liked/respected who never got back to me (even to tell me to go away), I would probably keep doing the Seasonal Winter Holiday Contact thing in perpetuity. I've been incredibly grateful for the people who keep us on their annual card lists even when I'm flaky about sending my own.

(Also I have a whole set of friends that I basically am used to seeing once every year or two at a fannish event and little-to-no contact in between. I don't think they want me out of their life, but we are Con Friends not Daily Email Friends.)

And yes, I love DW/LJ both because there's not the implied pressure of one-to-one comms, but also because it again is asynchronous and conversations are tolerant of gaps in one's ability to communicate.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-09-05 10:29 am (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
" who never got back to me (even to tell me to go away),"

I mean of course that if they did tell me to go away that I would stop. But I wouldn't take absence-of-response to an annual card as go-away. And I'm so grateful that other people haven't done so for me.

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Date: 2014-09-05 10:44 am (UTC)
shanaqui: Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel smiling. ((Carol) Come hither)
From: [personal profile] shanaqui
I take the advice as more of a rule of thumb, subject to bending when you know why the person is likely not responding. Like, one of my friends doesn't respond much because she doesn't feel she ~deserves~ friendship, and the worst bloody thing to do is stop trying to contact her. But a friend randomly cut me out of her life (dropped me on FB, LJ, didn't respond to emails/texts), and after I sent one or two querying emails asking if we could talk about it, I just had to accept it, because the message was pretty clear. So I think I get what the Captain is saying, as a general message? And it is awkward that it interacts badly with one of your issues.

Which actually makes me aware that the best possible thing to do to avoid this situation for anyone is to make it clear when I'm out of cope and unlikely to respond in a timely fashion, and likewise make it clear when a swift response will happen. Because so much of the world is built for people whose brains work "typically"; might as well fix that a bit in my personal architecture.

I think the middle ground is something involving knowing the situation, knowing who you're talking to, knowing the context. Which this post tells me you do.

I don't know if that is reassuring any?

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Date: 2014-09-05 02:48 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
This stuff is why I prefer social media and blogs over any kind of direct personal 1-on-1 thing. I can "broadcast" about my general state, and occasionally send a message to specific people, and people can comment as and when they want without expectation, while there's no expectation for me to comment on everything they say either.

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Date: 2014-09-05 03:42 pm (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
I work in a profession where juggling chainsaws is a normal expectation, and with people who are generally also expected to do the same, so if something gets dropped, it may not be noticed unless someone re-pings, which I can be terrible at, because eyes on chainsaws. So I'm trying to use notes everywhere to supplement failing memory, and even then things get lost. So if we forget, it usually lies fallow until I go back and re-look at things that are marked important but not responded to.

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Date: 2014-09-05 08:14 pm (UTC)
inoru_no_hoshi: The most ridiculous chandelier ever: shaped like a penis. Text: Sparklepeen. (Default)
From: [personal profile] inoru_no_hoshi
I am absolutely the worst at replying to things - I'm very bad at replying to emails, I don't really do phone calls, and leaving comments on peoples' posts on my reading page is... something I manage less than I like (I often start writing a comment, and then go "NOPE" or "OBNOXIOUS D:" or "Ugh why would they care?" or "Wow this is all about me it is not relevant to post in question at all" and then can't think of something better. So, periodic posts that are basically "Sorry I don't comment much, but I DO read it all!!"). I'm usually good with text/IM/twitter because those are the places I am the most confident talking - there usually aren't any... IDK, specific expectations? And even then there are many "Oops I honestly didn't notice this thing sorry!" moments.

Clearly, your third point is resonating a lot. >_> Communication is hard, and awkward, and often somewhat anxiety-triggering, so I... IDK, I'm not sure I can agree with Captain Awkward's advice, because just because I don't/can't reply to a thing doesn't mean I don't want to see it, even if I equally feel bad about not replying. It's just... motivation. And working around anxiety. And then sometimes it's (a) month(s) later and by then it's kinda like "Welp that boat sailed..." /o\

TL;DR there are circumstances where that may be the best response but!! I honestly believe defaulting to it will cause at least as much if not more anxiety as otherwise.

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Date: 2014-09-05 09:44 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] twospots
I do not have time or brain to reply properly but OH GOD HELL YES THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SAYING THIS ME TOOOOOOOOOOO.

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