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!

 

 

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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.

 

(Ask Sami) Confidence

It’s so hard opening up to people who have a reasonable amount of confidence when I have very little. We just don’t think the same way and it feels…embarrassing. I’m not saying I’m an introvert idk. I think my confidence is lower than average. Like, self-hatred isn’t really being an introvert.

College Area

Hey friend,

I know we don’t know each other, but I say “friend” because I read your words and I feel a little closer to you. You are afraid of opening up, but with the shield of anonymity, you do so beautifully. I want to hear your feelings.

I took on this question as a challenge, because I think I come across as someone with “a reasonable amount of confidence,” most of the time. (Also related, my blog post: You’re not introverted, you just have problems.) You’re describing feeling lower than average while I feel above average, in confidence.

Let me reach a little toward the limits of my understanding. I recently went on a boat ride where I knew only one person: one of the two birthday honorees. I was excited, until I met everyone. I didn’t look like them. I looked from my over-zealous rain boots to their flip flops, my argyle sweater to their sweatshirts, my neon-orange side panel to their bleach blonde symmetrical haircuts, my drugstore shades to their Ray Bans. I felt like a nerd. I felt like the only gay in the village.

I actually thought about the confidence I usually have, told myself to count on it, and didn’t find much. Part of my confidence, I realize, is constructing a world around myself filled with people like me, doing things I like to do. It’s the key to how I survive San Diego. Anyway, I am not an unchanging and resilient goddess; I am a dynamic, sometimes vulnerable, human being. In this case, I was not confident.

A young woman with short hair who made my gaydar go “PING!!!” showed up, and I felt a little relief. By the end of the ride (alcohol helps), I felt a bit better and by the end of the “after-party” (cute dogs help) I didn’t feel glaringly out of place. Overall, I had a good time. I mean, boats are awesome. BOATS. Still, I took the experience as a validation that I should continue to nurture the environment I already love, and venture out of my comfort zone only sometimes (for example, when there are boats).

I see, however, my ability to empathize with you has limits. I don’t feel what sounds like a pervasive, low self-esteem. Even in my depression days I refused to turn my self-hatred inward. I didn’t dwell on insecurities, but rather, the way I felt — if that makes sense. I didn’t think, “I hate myself,” but rather, “I hate how I feel.” My therapist would have liked me to say it’s because I have a powerful streak of self preservation. At the time, quite honestly, I was just desperate to give my sadness purpose. If it wasn’t about me, if it was out of my control, if it was pure, then it was beautiful.

You say you have a hard time opening up to confident people. If I was at a party, doing my confident thing, this is what I’d want you to do. Ask me, “You seem so confident. Are you always so confident?”

Depending on my mood, I might respond with honest gratitude for this flattering question, or a playful, “Yes, 100% I am the most confident being. It is because I wear very tall shoes with spikes on them.”

Then, you could reply, “I’m not confident at all. Like way below average.”

Already, I would want to know more about this person who knows themselves so well, like that. And that is the most advice I can give, from my limited experience. I might even have more to learn, from you.

All my best,

Sami

P.S. Does anyone else feel similarly to the person who wrote in? Add comments below.


 

IMAG1884Ask your own question…

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Should I move to San Diego?

The people of the internet want to know: Why is San Diego So Boring?, and they want to know if it’s pointless to move here. 

I’m surprised I haven’t written about moving to San Diego before. Okay, no, I’m not surprised. I didn’t move here and I don’t care. I was born here, I’m stuck here forever, and the comings and goings of transplants is as regular and invisible to me as the movement of the tides of the Pacific Ocean. (It never fucking stops.)

downtown with ocean

I had to get a picture of the Pacific Ocean (and Downtown SD) from my friend Sarah Snow because I don’t have any pictures like this on my phone because apathy killed my soul and the beauty of my own city fails to ever move me.

Still, all the comments I’ve been getting on the boring-ness of San Di-ago make me wonder if I would recommend moving here to an outsider.

I live in Chicago. Born and raised and I have always wanted to live someplace warmer. Los Angeles was always my dream but after my visit there in 2009 I changed my mind because I didn’t like some things about the town and it just wasn’t what I expected. So flash forward to 2016 and I still have the desire to move elsewhere. The housing market in Chicago sucks and I cannot see ever buying a place here unless I want to live in the ghetto or burbs which I do not lol. Its also very segregated here but I wouldn’t necessarily say that it is racist though there have been discriminatory incidents. But anyway, I just want to leave mostly because of the weather and I’m just bored in general and need something new. I was considering San Diego but as I read an article about reasons to move here something prompted me to search for ‘is San Diego boring” because it kind of seemed that way as you never hear anything about the city. And that is how I came across this post. Though this is a small number of the populace confirming the city’s boredom, there has to be something to it if the consensus is the same right? I am an introvertish person but since I’ve lived in the city all my life I think I might miss the hustle and bustle and I do enjoy interacting with others. Plus I’m not married and don’t have any kids so I’d need friends to have a life. Oh well, back to the drawing board :-(

–Natasha

Side note: I don’t live where you live, but that sounds like racism to me. No need to mince words. Racists fucking exist in America (e.g. Drumpf with his anti-immigration rhetoric) and I think trying to minimize how bad it is contributes to the problem. Though, of course, Natasha may be a Person of Color and may have her reasons for minimizing the segregation she sees in her city.

The only person I got close to who is from Ohio now lives in Chicago. They lamented San Diego’s lack of dance scene to me, saying that people need cold and miserable weather to beckon them to move around in warehouses and clubs. However, I’m not sure they moved back homeward because of boredom per se — perhaps just of wanting to enroll in grad school.

You might find this place too boring, Natasha. You seem to be a rational person who knows herself well. So I’ll be straightforward. Given the cost of living, it’s a gamble to give moving here a try. I should also try to dissuade you from transplanting, as I am a “San Diego native” — I have a moral obligation to be territorial, I suppose.

As a sympathetic human being, however, I would say don’t give up entirely. San Diego is a great stepping stone to California, and California is fucking magical. Come here, see if you can find the friendly weirdos / weird friends, and if you’re missing the hustle and bustle… It’s a big state. Or coast. Try Portland?

Only in California do you use palm fronds to shade your garden

I love my life here, but I’m in a special place. I found my best friends, and they like the things I do. I enjoy the juxtaposition of the Oasis of Oddness I usually dwell in vs. the Sterile San Diego I encounter when I venture outside my friend-bubble. I feel part of something underground, and am constantly re-realizing, with amazement, that I’m in some kind of nebulous, breathing, self-perpetuating Art Collective with my friends. If I grew up anywhere else, my feeling of being a majestic odd-bird could have been threatened into submission. Alternative universe Portlandian-sami would blend in with the rest of the freaks and feel very normal and boring. I probably would only post in my blog 5 times a year, because what’s the point?

I also think, in a place that Keeps Weird,  I’d never have learned the value of a close-knit community. De-facto loyalty doesn’t work for me; I need to be actively attached and sharing passions to continue to invest in a person. I can’t just be lifetime buddies with someone because we picked boogers in kindergarten together. I need to live in the moment. The transplants that come and go here get all of me (until they leave, and then they don’t). A place with more hustle and bustle might not have had enough scarcity of people-gems to force me to hold on to my friends.

After ravenously sampling the social scenes of SD in my party-est years of 2011-2013, I found my people. Natasha, if you are willing to do this, you could love it here, too.

If you maintain only shallow friendships, tend to hole up alone (or with your cats) for extended periods, and expect to be able to step into a lively and engaging city on a rare whim to be social.. I think you’ll be sorely disappointed.

From my heart,

Sami

If you’re a San Diegan with a question, or you have a question about San Diego, ask me.

(Ask Sami) “How do I come out as a bi guy?”

Dear Sami,

As a bisexual man I frequently find myself at a bit of a loss in terms of how to identify myself to women I find attractive and might be interested in dating. Is there any way to avoid the “secretly gay” auto-dismissal?

Side question: how do you view the ethics of when to come out in this sort of situation? Being straight-forward (pun intended) is a recipe for being branded “best gay friend.” On the other hand, coming out later is taken as “deceptive creep.” Is there a way to be proud of who I am and still get a date?

xoxo,

A bi guy

Central San Diego

I reached out to a couple of my bi guy friends to help me answer your question. While I’ve used bisexual as a label in my past, the stigma for men and women are completely different flavors, as I’m sure you know. (Instead of being dismissed as secretly gay, I was just assumed to be mostly straight).

One friend prefers to be more strategic. He knows outing himself will change the nature of his interactions. Another said he likes to get it out there as soon as possible, because he wants to rule out bigots right away. Of course, the latter was talking about telling women during a first or second date, when he typically meets new women (usually from okCupid) — and he would presumably be past the point of gay-best-friendzoned. If you’re establishing yourself in a new friend group (with potentially datable women) who don’t know about your particulars, that’s different, too.

Ethically-speaking, it’s nobody’s goddamned business. Yeah, it’s shady to hide your past from a partner when things are getting serious, and it’s not a good way to build trust. Still, you should not be accused of being a deceptive creep just because you kept private things private. I think you should treat your past experiences with men the same as with women — if you’re bringing up the latter, then bring up the former, but don’t feel obligated to do so sooner.

Another point to consider: how you present information totally changes the reaction to it. The more you can coach yourself into showing your bi side as 1. not a big deal (which, besides being important to you and something to be proud of, it isn’t) 2. something you’d expect people to be understanding of (because they should) and 3. something that’s not going to be a problem (why would it be?)… then the more often your dates/new friends will take your social cues and react in kind. Look, it’s not your fault if bigoted people gave you some touchy hangups about your sexual identity, but it is your responsibility not to unload your baggage onto an unsuspecting love interest. Unless, of course, she’s a bigot and she deserves it.

Ultimately, I don’t think the paradigm of “am I doing the right thing?” is as helpful as coming at it from the perspective of, “what makes me feel best about myself?” My first guy friend is a little more private and starts his relationships more casual. When it comes time, he’ll unabashedly be himself, but he feels no shame for not bringing it up sooner. To him, it’s just not relevant until he feels it is. Maybe she has to earn his trust first. So, he feels fine about his strategy. My other guy friend is the type who is helplessly honest. It would be really weird for him not to share this part of himself. So, he’s happy with sharing as soon as possible.

You’ll figure this out. In the meantime, nothing replaces the support of a strong friend network filled with people who know the real you and get you. I have that. It takes a lot of the worry away about how my sexuality is perceived, and makes me incredibly happy. Find your people. That’s the mandate of this city.


 

IMAG1884Ask your own question…

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(Ask Sami) Blanking on Bowie Blues

Am I the only one who has no interest in David Bowie’s passing away?

Normal Heights

Short answer: I don’t know.

In the rows and piles of my father’s records, sometime in high school, I found Bowie. Maybe because of the many space references (and I was an alien princess), I instantly and always loved his music. I loved him among other rockstars, some dead. some living. I had no context, knew the music only by the words on the cover and its image. To this day, I prefer to listen to albums (and hand-picked playlists: the modern mixtape) over “discover new” or “radio” algorithms.

I did not share my peers’ fluency in the lives of their music favorites — the factoids of band member names, origins, relationships, birthdays. I have no mind for trivia, and cared to memorize only the lyrics by playing albums on repeat. I imagined I could discover traces of the artists in the order they arranged their songs, and listened for an arc of plot, a climax, a theme. To this day, I barely grasp the names of all the members of my favorite band — such a feat is not in my programming. It’s not how I enjoy music.

So, within this context (and being an alien with a poor grasp on reality), I assumed David Bowie was already dead. I mean, Kurt Cobain was dead and his band was my first rock favorite (circa 7th-9th grade). I think I discovered Bowie was still alive not sooner than three years ago. He has already been a Lazarus. Losing him again feels not piercing, but familiar.

There’s also my disinterest in celebrity culture. I enjoy the artwork, the content, the entertainment created by these cultural paragons — but they are not my friends. I’ve never spoken to them. I don’t want to simulate familiarity by learning about their breakups, their pet interests, their lineage. I’m interested in their stories insofar as they relate to their art, and no more.

So, while I understand a desire to be part of a greater narrative — to follow closely specific exalted beings and share emotional paths with strangers, acquaintances, the whole fucking world — my participation is hesitant. I can (and do) cry over tragedies, but he died of a terminal illness surrounded by loved ones at age 69. I don’t begrudge those that held him closer to their hearts a right to their own grief, but sometimes I feel like I don’t get it. I think that’s okay.

I see Bowie’s passing as a time for his significance to resurface in the common conversation. (I love this.) I re-listened to all of Station to Station and Ziggy Stardust and the tracks Space Oddity, Heroes, and Rebel Rebel (which my friend John sang to me on my birthday last month on a karaoke night at Redwing). I’ve enjoyed this occasion to revisit Bowie. I can celebrate, reflect, but I haven’t shed a tear. And I think that’s okay.

You appear to be even further removed than I am.

That’s probably okay.


 

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Consent: Beyond Words

Using speech to ask for consent is the entry point and the bare minimum. Absolutely, we much teach each other to ask and teach each other to listen for the answers. No means no. Confirm that the yes is enthusiastic. Words are what we have chosen as a species to transcend the skin and skulls that keep us separate, words and their offspring are as close as we can currently get to telepathy.

Yet this world did not teach me to say, “no,” and the greatest betrayals I have faced happened when men not only did not hear my timid refusals in my voice, but they also did not hear the timid refusals in my shoulders, in my breath, in my eyes. These nonverbal cues scream to me when I see them in other women because I, too, have raised tiny shields and tiny trumpets and gone to war in silence. I ask, “How can you not see this?”

Still, I empathize. When I was first coming out of the closet, first to myself and then to others, I felt many things but one that I sensed intensely was, as I called it, my lack of agency. I saw the way some men took of women and seemed to get what they wanted, and I did not know how to enter this dance of lust and love and get what I wanted. I was frustrated. I was angry. I felt robbed.

I think all men enter this private battle that I entered. Do we trust the story we are seeing play out in front of our eyes and teach ourselves to take what we desire? For me, such a thing was patently unacceptable. I learned my own other way and I learned to ask and the love I receive is abundant. I realized that feeling robbed was my first mistake — I am not entitled to sex or touch or love. You get those things when you are good, when you are sweet, when you are open, and honestly just when you are lucky. I realized I was angry with myself the most; for being too cowardly to even ask, let alone touch. My frustration was my own fault, and on top of that, it made me unattractive.

Yet it is not so easy to come to these realizations. It is far easier to believe that asking for consent is just not sexy, or that practicing consent is simply doing nothing at all for fear of harming anyone. It is easy to believe a false dichotomy; either I’m an asshole and I get laid, or I’m nice and I get nothing.

My first steps towards shattering these myths were to realize 1) There are a wealth of messages sent nonverbally between human beings and I can hear them, see them, feel them if I try and 2) It is better to realize quickly a woman is not interested in me and move on than to postpone the discomfort of understanding rejection. The truth is, it hurts far more to pine secretly after someone than to let go when, in the end, it turns out they don’t want you.

Consent beyond words is learning to actively listen with all of your senses. The first wall you will face is the overwhelming tsunami of “No” and disinterest that you had been willfully ignoring to protect your own pride.  There are other walls, too, that I can’t even begin to describe in one blog post.

Beyond this initial sting, you will find a peaceful clarity. You will be able to forge honest friendships, untainted with motive. You will be able to present your truer, more vulnerable, less needy self. This self is, if we’re going to be practical, a more attractive self. And beyond your new calm, you will begin to recognize warm rays of “yes” beaming onto you. One might, unsmiling, avoid your eyes with hers when you ask her flirtful questions (no) while another will soak up your interest and laugh and speak back to you (yes?). The latter may, of course, be only seeking friendship, but she will be kind to you when you ask for her kiss and she’s not interested, because she does care for you. Bolstered by this kindness, you will be less timid to ask another your heart’s next desire.

Listen and see, listen and see. Cast aside your motivations and expectations. Offer your desires as gifts of insight, not as trials of sadness v. pleasure. That is the only way I can happily live, and happily live I do.

P.S. I am going on vacation, so next time will be posting early, on Saturday.