RSVP Etiquette in the Age of Facebook

From the Desk of Miss Sammanners.

Some of you may say that I have already written on this topic, to which I say, thank you dear readers for your precious attention. My previous post, however, may have taken an unfriendly tone in the name of levity. I might go so far as to accuse myself of hypocrisy for decrying rudeness while committing the very same. I thought I might redress the issue with more compassion and decorum (and absolutely no humor)!

this is your party host

The Ideal RSVP

Let me posit the idealized behavior before supporting it with historical context and arguments.

When a friend invites you to a party using not traditional letter-post, but the machine called, “Facebook,” and you are unable to go — stop, careful! Pause before the bold box imploring you to submit your regrets. Do click, “no” to inform the host of your lack of attendance (and your friend can know to labor over one less macaroon). Then, wait until after the event has passed* and send a private message to your host letting them know you much regretted missing their delightful soiree, that you are thinking of them and your friendship, and you would not have neglected their invitation for quite anything, save your prior engagement or sudden emergency.

*In cases for a much planned in advance event, for when you haven’t seen the host in a long time, or for a more intimate gathering where your presence will indubitably missed (as you are quite popular), it might be useful to offer your regrets (in private message, still!) before the event so that your friend can either attempt to convince you to change your mind, or gossip with, I mean inform, the other attendees about the reason for your absence.

blab on the entire event page for all to see that you have something more important to do NO

Some “Historical” Context

Now, manners are really only a means of fostering the most amount of comfort for the most possible people. They work especially well when they are commonly understood and can be performed like a choreographed dance, and thus we oft memorize them. Our kindly parental units raised us to have the good manners to RSVP, since traditionally, an RSVP is a boon to the host who needs to know how large of an event to expect.

send private message letting host know you still love them even though you couldn't go YESRSVP served another function: reminding a host that their friendship is valued with the supposed invitee. (Also, that the absent attendee still very much exists — don’t forget me!) Now, as shown in the idealized example above, both the qualities of headcount and social acknowledgment can be met without publicly announcing your regrets on the event page.

Unintended Insults

If this neat solution isn’t enough to persuade you, let me offer the stick rather than the carrot. Manners should not be superseded by common sense. Not to call anyone dense, but failure to heed my advice leads to many a consequence…

Example: “Sorry I can’t make it.”

Beware leaving this seemingly innocent note for the masses to read on the Facebook event page. You of course are modest about your social influence, but your host may become nervous that your absence will dissuade others from attending. Too many similar sentiments in a row, and the event can appear unpopular. Better to not draw attention to the fact that your delightful presence will be missing and only privately inform your host.

“Sorry, I have to take my cat Cynthia to the veterinarian that evening.”

This may be helpful information to include in your private message, as it implies to your friend that you are unfortunately stuck but would otherwise love to go. This amount of detail can backfire, however, when it causes your host to imagine a myriad of other arrangements that would allow for you to both heed your responsibility AND attend their event. It may leave your friend wondering why you didn’t care to expend the effort to imagine the same arrangements.

this is your friend trying to host a party SAD

“Sorry, I’m going to this other party / event!

Forgive me, but I feel this one is quite obviously rude. Someone posting this message implies that they have more important and/or exciting things to do than spend time with the host, and they are doing this where everyone can see it. Does this not seem like a bit of a social snub?

“But this is the same weekend as a much larger event!”

What might someone posting this information hope to achieve? Do they think the host is not well informed enough on social engagements to already know this? Did they not pause to consider that the host already chose the best date possible for the event, and after weighing many factors, decided to accept the drop in attendance that competing with another event may cause? Perhaps the entire event should be rescheduled. Perhaps the host is clueless and daft. Perhaps the host forgot they must magically meet the needs of every attending guest, regardless of the usual scheduling trouble and their own chores.

i knew that I don't live under a rock

A Conspiracy…?

Finally, perhaps a sort of conspiracy might cause this matter to stay in your mind. Facebook, dear friends, cares not about manners (except when profitable). Their only effort is to increase your interaction with their web domicile in any way, such that you spend more time on the site, such that they can ply you with advertisements. Facebook quite insistently presents you with a box to post your regrets, because eliciting such a response causes a cascade of notifications. The host is notified. People following the event page for updates may be notified. The event page is busier and busier and more enticing. The opportunities multiply to comment, like, love, wow, angry, sad, burp, fart, heave a sigh of existential dread…

Let not thine eye follow the conventional crook, and leap Facebook’s fences by refusing to keep to the box. Send a private message instead, and be free to graze greener pastures (of friendship and compassion). Yay manners!

 

 

How to (Actually) Survive Your Own Overwhelming Laziness (pt.2)

This post contains actual solutions instead of fake sad ones! But, if you would prefer to remain lazy, I do have a list of excuses and coping mechanisms for you.

I’ve really only learned two things, but they ended up being important.

  • Identify bad habits that are destroying your productivity
  • Find a way to motivate yourself to decrease them

Everyone likes to talk about good habits. I thought that, since I lack discipline, I should focus on creating good habits and positivity and fluffy happy thoughts and I will be perfect and amazing. It turns out that is incredibly wrong. 1. I resist saccharine bullshit in all things and 2. Bad discipline = I don’t want to do any *thing* = I don’t want to do good things. “Just write 15 minutes a day!” I told myself. I blocked out time in my calendar, I downloaded habit apps, I rewarded myself with candy.

habit bull app android

This should have worked. After all, I’ve had great success with this 7 minute workout app that I have been forcing myself to complete no less than 5 times a week (using Habit Bull to track that). It turns out that discipline is easier when I have a robot voice commanding me to do workout things while my mind is free to think about fun things like cute animals, cute women, or arguing with dudes on the internet. It also turns out that discipline is impossible when you have to sit down for 15 minutes in silence and be artistically impressive.

I was not using my bad discipline to my advantage. I love not doing anything, therefore, I can learn to like not doing bad things! All I have to do is nothing! Yes, there was something bad I was doing & it would be better for me to spend that time doing absolutely nothing at all.

internet binge
/’In.tər.net binj/

noun

When, after checking your phone or computer for messages, you waste fucking eons of time looking at all of the internet.

Backstory; I am not friends with caffeine. At low doses, I am really uncomfortable; at high doses I cry, slur my words, and pass out on floors. Caffeine does not help my hangovers, by the way. Caffeine turns my hangovers into: “oh my god all of my blood is poison and I can feel all 1.2 gallons of it pulsing through me and why won’t my hands stop shaking??” Anyone who has a coffee with their hangover* is a masochist; hangovers are for sleeping.

Living life without wake-up drugs is difficult, and that’s why I schedule 9 hours of sleep on work nights and I *used to* use my phone to replace coffee. “Watermelon-watermelon-watermelon..” my alarm song** rings, I stare into a bright screen for 15 minutes 30 minutes 1 hour, feel bright and shiny capable of getting up, and do my stuff.

I’ve been using the phone-in-my-face method for about 3 years now. It turns out I have been wrong about life for 3 years. It is better for me to lay in bed and do nothing, rather than introduce my brain to the addictive reward cycle of sweet, empty internet calories first thing in the morning. Invariably, I will continue to snack on internets for the rest of the day and ACHIEVE NOTHING and hate myself and have to use Netflix to cope.

habitica avatar golden fox

To aide me on my quest to defeat the internet binge, I made an account with Habitica. Gamification totally works for me, as does the level of customization available in this free app/browser tool. I got to watch my little character level up, get cool outfits, and hatch a baby golden fox just cuz I did my chores. For the internet binge, I started by setting a bad habit (I lose points if I do it) for any binges before 6pm. Later on, I increased the damage that habit does to my character, and added a bad habit for internet binges at any time. One exception: internet binges while pooping are totally allowed.

habitica bad habits examples

Habitica is also helping me replace the need to poke at my phone. It is a real, physical need! I have to be able to touch my phone periodically through the day, feel its smooth, fancy glass, its weight in my hands… I mean, there’s Neko Atsume, or there’s an extended-reality app that gives me gold coins for vacuuming. Ok, I can do this; I can be a good sami. Just need to complete more tasks to find a few more food items to raise my dragon big enough to ride him…

Wow. Look at how long this blog post is. Method totally works.


 

*kind of a lie. So, from what I’ve read on the science, if you are addicted to caffeine, a small amount will help you with your hangover by reducing caffeine withdrawal (a symptom worsened by overall hangover suckage). Too much caffeine, however, is bad for any hangover.

**this is a truly fantastic way to wake up and is how I’ve been doing it since Burning Man.

 

A Funeral for FOMO (from my list of Party Ideas)

tecatree and misletoecate

The Tecatree under the Mistletoecate

I keep a list of party ideas in a note in my phone. I have successfully thrown, “It’s a Very Tecate Christmas,” wherein we built a tree out of tecate cans, and look forward to, “Onesie, Twosie, bring me boozie.” Sometimes a party theme is just something to append to my signature text bolo* to intrigue/challenge the 40 or so friends who receive my last minute invite via their smartphones. How do I dress up for that? What does it mean? Is it even a real theme or is it just a joke?

everything-is-tubes-when-you-really-think-about-it

Sometimes, however, a theme warrants elaborate planning. For example…

“A Funeral for FOMO

Guests, dressed in black, enter my living room to see a small coffin, nestled in lilies, on an elegantly draped table. They are invited to write anything which has caused them FOMO in 2015, and place it in the coffin. Then, they should write any positive reasons they can think of for missing events and tape them to the walls of the room, and light a candle.

We sip wine and eat an assortment of tapas. I know I am supposed to be mourning the departed, but I am preoccupied with hosting. Maybe I am a little grateful for the distraction. The room starts to fill with the warmth of firelight and pleasant notes on the walls of, “I got to see my new baby niece,” “I went to Canada!” and, “Eating Milano cookies and binge-watching Fargo.”

At the appointed time, the pallbearers (there only need to be two because the coffin’s full of paper and probably made of cardboard, but we’ll have at least six because I want to be fancy, duh) carry their dutiful load out into the courtyard and place it inside a beautiful metal basin (our fire pit). It is ceremoniously doused with gasoline and ceremoniously ignited with extra-long fireplace matches.

After a poignant silence where we watch the coffin decay in the flames and contemplate the mortality of FOMO (and use the pyre to light cigarettes), Alexander Dial proposes a toast. He [says something really fucking elegant] while I pour out shots of whiskey. After we knock those back, we strip off our black outer garb to reveal “the brightest and/or shiniest shit you can find in your closet” (per the instructions given in the invitations) and go inside to have a dance party.

R.I.P FOMO


* Text Bolo, or text-message APB. In context:

Roommate: I want to have people over but I don’t want to do anything to make it happen please help <3 

Me: Nw I’ll send out a text bolo and invite everyone tonight

 

Is NaNoWriMo Hard?

The answer is yes. Unbelievably, soul-crushingly hard.

I call this the "Write By Whatever Means..." strategy

I call this the “Write By Whatever Means…” strategy

Last year, I wrote my first complete book in about 10 months. A year later, I am certain the book needs extensive revision and does not make sense to publish now (my first book: a memoir? At age 25? Sami, you delusional, egotistical fool!). All the same, just 10 days ago, I still believed in my incredible abilities to write quickly and make it to the finish line.

That has hilariously all changed, due to the “borderline unsustainable”* schedule required to win National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. 1,667 words a day x 30 days = 50,000 words = screw my social life. I can write 750 words in 25 minutes! I reassured myself. Only if these 750 words are a stream-of-conscious diary entry! I strategically ignored myself.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.26.06 PM

Today I am supposed to write 2,905 words. Due to my poor discipline, I am 1,238 words behind my schedule. Therefore, I am procrastinating with this blog post. Even my blog post is difficult, because 10 days of NaNo has changed me.

My inner editor and my inner drafter used to have a fairly loving, symbiotic relationship. Drafter would drag her feet just enough (a.k.a. constantly) to inspire Editor to soften her voice and offer timely, helpful feedback, and the occasional cheerleading. Now, Drafter is forced by the whip of word-count demands to write alone, desperately, sometimes with spelling errors (!). Editor does not take kindly to being silenced, so she lives in the margins of the Google Doc I use to write, leaving behind increasingly abusive comments and rows of yellow highlight.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.24.12 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.25.30 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.25.03 PM

Inner Editor would like to point out the timestamps are completely inaccurate and Google Docs should be ashamed of itself.

Before NaNoWriMo, I liked my first “drafts” of scenes enough to often include them nearly verbatim in the final script. Now I hate them. I hate them all, I’m a terrible writer, and I should give up forever. Except…

Into week two, I feel myself approaching a membrane in my consciousness. Where, before, I saw the written word a narrow bridge for the tongueless voices of my thoughts to reach the ears of others, I now see a waterfall to burst a dam. Perhaps I will now, finally, immediately think in words (odd writer that I am, my natural state is to think in pictures and vague emotions, and the words only come after warming and thinning like syrup over flame). Perhaps I will short-circuit the connection between mind and keyboard.

A diorama I made for another writing project

Or, at least, I’ll train myself to draft like rabbits breeding and, at the end, my trigger-happy editor will have a maniacal slaughter.


*words of Kelly Lagor

How to Judge a Facebook Event Invite by the Numbers

I’ve been using a very basic set of formulas to figure out how big a Facebook party is going to be, based on these numbers:

facebook-invite-party-numbers-attendance-example

# Going, # Maybe, and # Invited, that’s all I care about.

Here’s the math. It’s simple because I may have a pre-party whiskey in my hand when I need to use it:

Going × 80% + Maybe × 50 % = estimated attendance

and

Invited ÷ Going = desperation index

1 = they only invited their good friends….or their only friends. 3 = approaching desperate, or they might just be popular. 5 = this is the only big party they have ever thrown, plz come!!! 10 = goddamnit promoters.

Some of you smarty pants types may have already crunched the numbers from my initial example, and found very promising figures. Indeed, I would say those numbers just about represent ideal. While it was a great party, there are a few factors I’ve left out.

RSVP Inflation

RSVP Inflation occurs when people feel some sort of obligation to go…or at least say yes. I haven’t figured out an exact number to subtract in these cases, but I do know people are lying liars and will say yes and hope the host doesn’t notice they didn’t make it. (Ummmm…so sometimes I say yes because I want show my support, since maybe just seems disappointing.)  Here are common causes:

  • Housewarming party  <– this is our example
  • Going away party
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversary party (an event that happens every year)
  • Inconvenient but exciting party
  • Ridiculously well-themed party

Ultimately, I don’t think this factored heavily in the attendance of my example. I do think attendance was near or exactly 57.5 people. (Half person = child?? or..) Yet the practical attendance (a.k.a how the party feels to me during the actually-relevant-to-my-life hours of 10pm-3am) was about 15 people lower. Which brings me to my next point…

Time Dilution

Time dilution occurs when the event spans additional, unconventional party hours, such as starting in the afternoon. This happens with:

  • Ambitious housewarming parties (<–)
  • Parties that start as a BBQ
  • Parties thrown by lonely people
  • Parties thrown by people with kids, or who have a lot of friends who have kids
  • Summer parties (I know it is summer year-round here in San Diego, but June-August months are just treated differently, you know?)
  • People who are really into day drinking

You’re just not going to see the people who leave early. It’s ok. They’re not your type of people, anyway.

Making An Appearance

The making an appearance factor has the same basic effect as time dilution, and of course occurs when the event or the attendance-base lends itself to briefer party visits. Either people are making their obligatory stopover before leaving to sleep/take care of kids/return to their lairs of introversion, or they are popular kids doing what popular kids do: party hop.

For example, take a look at this:

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.22.32 AM

What is this? More maybes than going?? What is the meaning of this anomaly?

The desperation index seems high, but actually what is going on here is that a popular person has invited his very popular friends and, oh, wow, they’ll make it if they can, they really hope so. Looks delightful, I so want to be there, xoxo.

Umm, eff yes I’m going. No, not to brush against popularity and hope it rubs off on me, but because attending an event where dynamic, gregarious people are coming and going as they make their Saturday-night rounds is a revolving door of delight for me.

Many of those 97 weren’t sure they could commit to even a maybe, or swiped yet another Facebook invite out of their mobile notifications, but still found the event when they were buzzing around town on party night looking for the next bit of excitement. And many of those 30 did, in fact, make their appearances.

My Weird Friends

This is why I’m writing this. I am all mixed up. When I throw parties with my best friends, at my house, the math just doesn’t work. Here’s what I see:

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.25.07 AM

Desperation index makes sense. I’ve invited only my best friends. But actual attendance was somewhere around 30.

It seems like all goings go, and most maybes make it, and the rest of my weirdo friends who totally ignore their Facebooks somehow get the memo that there’s something happening tonight, come over.

Love you kids <3

Cases I haven’t Examined

Here are party-types I haven’t examined because I don’t friggin go to them:

  • Baby showers
  • Weddings
  • Fundraisers that are really fundraiser-y
  • Most board game nights
  • Movie nights
  • Video game nights
  • Gender-themed parties (such as “battle of the sexes” or pearl/tie parties) that aren’t awesomely queer and/or subversive

4 Party Life Hacks I Have Actually Used

Slow the fuck down. Relax. Take the time necessary to fix your party emergency. You can sneak off to a side yard, a car, or, depending on the demand, chill out in the bathroom. The benefit of having an ‘emergency’ at a party is that most people will be too distracted to notice you. So, get yourself to calm down so that you don’t make matters worse.

Stinky Pits

stinky-pits

(I forgot to put on deodorant because I forgot my normally non-sweaty body can produce smell.) Lock yourself in the bathroom, take off your top, and use hydrogen peroxide on your pits — it kills the smelly bacteria. If it’s your clothes that smell, you might be SOL, not only because you don’t want to be walking around with soggy pits but also because hydrogen peroxide can bleach clothing.

Bloodstains

hydrogen-peroxide-doodle

(I also forgot my body does that monthly thing it does.) Hydrogen peroxide again is good for getting these out, as well as spit.

Panic / Anxiety

anxiety-cartoon

(I also forgot I do this sometimes.) Compression is an effective way to stop panic in its tracks, at least for me. It’s best if you’re prepared for this by training a friend or two, but I find in general if I just go up to someone I’m on hugging terms with and demand, “Squeeze me!” they’ll give me the tight embrace I need. If I’m lucky, I can get some group hug action. Full body squishes are even better…climb into a cuddle puddle? If you want to learn more about the science of why this works, look up “parasympathetic vs. sympathetic response.” Anyway, I know this can seem counterintuitive if you have social anxiety, but I like to think I’m just using the science and people just happen to make decent substitutes for a compression machine.

We Forgot To Put Out the Recycling…Again

trash-can-monster

(The blue bins are full from last weeks kickback, and I just invited 20 people over.)  Invert a box over the recycling bin and cut a hole in it just big enough to fit crushed cans (and glass bottles). Decorate it to look like a monster, including a thought bubble that reads “YUMMMM CRUSHED CANS.” (This has become a permanent fixture at my house because it’s the only way to get people to crush their cans. If I simply tape a sign to the bin, it gets ignored.)

For more, read 6 Party Coping Mechanisms.

Flirty Followup: Should I tell my lesbian friend I think she’s sexy?

…If you’re a gal, the answer is: Well hello, there.

So, you think your lezfriend is smoldering hot. I’m guessing since you called her “lesbian friend” and not just “friend,” you’re either straight or bi/queer.

Straight girls:

First off, there’s really only one thing you can do wrong here, and that is force yourself on us. Please, don’t assume I want to make out with you. Don’t accuse me of being so desperate by getting drunk on 4 shots of Fireball and falling down my throat with your sloppy tongue. I’m not flattered if I think you’re just doing it because you’re wasted, or because you want to impress the boys. I’d much rather kiss you privately in a dark hallway or in the back bedroom wink wink.

If, however, you’ve been crushing on your gay lady friend for awhile and just want to tell her, please do. We are going to enjoy your compliment (really enjoy it, mmmf), but you do have to do it right. Help us answer our nervous, secret questions. How far does this attraction go? Flirting, occasional make-outs, a night of experimenting? Don’t lead us on to a broken heart. Use the power of your platonic certainty and let us know exactly what you want. “I think you’re extremely attractive, which is unexpected for me because I’m straightI don’t actually want to kiss you or hook-up, but would you be cool if I flirt with you sometimes?” Then tilt your head, bite your finger, and giggle because you know what you do to her, and it is so not fair.

Bi friends:

I am sad to see you hesitate, but I know how it is. Some gay women want nothing to do with you. They are bigots. They are terrible people who don’t understand the way the world works. To the women out there who try to say it hurts more when she leaves you for a man: Shut Up. You’re full of yourself. If it feels like her new dude invalidates your relationship, then maybe it was never real in the first place. She should have broken up with you.

I suppose I’d tell a bisexual woman to issue a challenge. “Hey, I want to date you, but I’m bi. Is that a problem?” Say it from the chin, smirking. If she starts to object, to explain her hesitation, cut her off and say, “Your loss.” The only right response is, “What? Why would that ever be a problem? Also yes, you’re gorgeous and brilliant, omfg I can’t believe you’re into me. I’m so lucky!”

Don’t wait. Tell her. Make her day <3