A few days ago I came across this articles, Yes, You Might Be A Flake on PsychologyToday.com. For those of us who believe in the basic etiquette the reading of the article is a trigger event. It will bring back all of those moments where you expected a party of 10 but only 8 of those who RSVPed actually showed. Or those times when you have set the table for five and three extra invitees who never event acknowledged your invitation arrive at the door (surprise!) and you wonder how you are ever going to turn five lobsters into eight.
You can blame technology and the ease with which it has made last minute text message bail-fests** all too easy to participate in or that excessive Facebook invitations have put us all into the default mode of ignore or turned us into automatic mouse-clicking-reply-yes-to-everything automatons but the fact is that the RSVP is seemingly well on it's way to becoming a quaint custom of yesteryear. Personally I think the article goes a bit to easy in it's title. I don't think people are flaky I think they are just plain rude BUT all of the points listed in the article are valid.
I'm not claiming that I've never pulled the last minute bail out. It was only a couple of years ago that after a long day at work when I had to stay unexpectedly late I called a friend and said that I was sorry, but I was simply too tired to be able to attend her dinner party and needed to head home to unwind. It was a few weeks later that I discovered all of her guests had cancelled that evening and she was left with dinner for seven prepared but uneaten.
Since then there have been more than a few occasions that I have been the only one who actually showed up and I've had quite an enjoyable evening in the company of the host or hostess with more wine for us. I still have those evenings when I have felt like I want to just go home, put on my slippers and curl up on the couch, but if I've said "Yes" I will show up and not once have I regretted it. I have found that the company of good friends does more to lift my spirits and boost my energy than a bowl of popcorn and Netflix ever will.
You might think you won't be missed but even putting planning and logistics aside that person who asked you to attend did it for a reason and that reason is probably that they actually like you and enjoy your company. Bailing at the last minute not only leaves a vacant seat at the table but it also sends the message that you don't find that person equally as important or likable. And maybe that is the underlying and sad truth. Maybe this increase in flakiness isn't due to any sort of inherent human laziness or the ease with which we can cancel via text message or that etiquette and manners have fallen out of fashion, but perhaps it is that we are simply putting our human relationships and friendships into a less important place in our lives.
I really hope that is not the case.
**bail-fest: the text party that takes place on your phone about a half hour before the scheduled start time of your dinner party, house warming, pot luck, birthday party, etc. during with people send their excuse for why they suddenly need to cancel at the last minute. Phrases such at "Oh so sorry something came up," "I'm just not feeling it tonight," "I'm such a ditz! I totally double booked myself," or "I'm sooooooooo tired I hope you understand." are commonly used bail-fest excuses.