The Death of the RSVP

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Sure we all have a lot going on, but when did flakiness become the rule (instead of the exception)?

These are all actual responses to a get together I planned to host – in my home, that required real supplies, and actual food/drinks (not just a seamless delivery or meetup at a bar).

“I think so!”

“Can I let you know? I think I have a dinner that night so I’m not sure yet.”

….no response….

“Ah sounds so fun and I think I should be free. Would love to join and can confirm tomorrow!”

“I’m not sure, but keep me in the loop.”

 “I plan on coming…”

And the subtext was…

…if I plan ahead and go to the gym before work (but I probably won’t).

…if work isn’t too crazy.

…if nothing better comes up.

…if I don’t decide I’d rather watch Netflix by myself.

I can read between the lines. It’s like everyone liked the idea of getting together, but no one wanted to actually commit until they knew definitively there wasn’t a more appealing plan.

Or maybe they wanted to just wishy washy enough that when they decided to bail at the last minute, I, as the hostess, wouldn’t be surprised.

Then, the day before – when any good party planner has already made the bulk of the preparations for the get together (read: spent money on booze and food) – the cancellations started to roll on in.

“Sorry to be a total flake, but something came up I need to see about.”

“Sorry to be lame, I have a tinder date… I don’t want to be alone forever lolz!”

“I feel like death. I’m trying to rest up so I can be well for this weekend!”

“I don’t think I can make it. I got a big week at work!!!”

And the sad thing is – I expected them. It has become so common for people to cancel on plans via a quick text with little to no notice, it wasn’t a shock.

But it was a disappointment, because no matter how much you expect it, when you’ve made preparations for having company, it’s a bummer when they pull out. Luckily for my not-attending guests, it’s hard to hear frustration through a text message. And even though your guest is doing the rude thing, the polite way to respond isn’t to say…

“What happened to making plans, and then scheduling other things around it?”

“Tinder dates can happen any damn day of the week – except the one you already had a thing.”

“How late are you really working homey?”

It’s to say…

“No worries! Let’s get together soon!”

“Have fun! Maybe he’s the one!!”

“Ugh work is the worst, but at least I’ll see you this weekend instead!”

It’s to let your guest off the hook, and smooth things over, when what you really want to do is tell your friends that they’re the absolute worst.

Now, sometimes, it’s true. Things do come up after you’ve already made plans – and being sick is a legitimate excuse, but this isn’t that. It’s an epidemic of refusing to say you’re going to do something, then actually do it.

Of course we all occasionally skip the birthday party you said you’d go to because you’re tired out and need a night on the couch, and you know that 10 other people will be there at there at the bar with cake and candles. Bailing happens.

Yet lately, it seems like a weird bystander effect – you know, the one that makes no one call the cops when they witness a crime because just think someone else is going to do it – but socially. Everyone thinks that someone else will be there. Someone else won’t bail. In big groups of friends, it’s easy to get away with. Except what if, what if one time no one actually shows up?

Or it’s the constant connectedness. There was a time when if you were having a birthday party, you had to mail invitations. Then to respond, you had to pick up the phone and talk to a person – or at least leave a recorded voice message saying if you’d make it. Now, invites happen by group text, by facebook invitation, or evite. It’s a lot easier to ignore the RSVP when there’s no personal contact involved – or to write a quick message cancelling with lots of emojis and exclamation points that seem to capture how disappointed you are to miss it. There’s no disappointed tone of voice. No frown to see.

Or maybe it’s invitation fatigue. There are so many things to do all the time, we get tired, panic, and don’t respond to any of them. Or we genuinely want to go, say we will, then feel overwhelmed and bail. But here’s an idea – what if, we just commit to the things we can realistically do and then use google calendar to remind ourselves?

In many ways, it’s actually easier to remember what we have to do than it was in yesteryear. We have iPhone alerts, and google calendars that sync across devices. There’s no more writing it on one calendar, but not seeing it when you’re at work and it’s at home.

There is uber and lyft so we don’t have to worry about a designated driver (at least in metropolitan areas).

There are services that will deliver us gifts within two days, wrapped if we please. I can even order a card online and have someone else write it and mail it for me. Still I find myself constantly frustrated by flakiness and refusal to commit.

Wouldn’t we all be a lot happier if we just decided to do what we want (and stick to it)?Can you relate?

And until everyone gets their ish together, at least there is this guide to getting people to ACTUALLY show up.

Image by Pexels.

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