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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I’ll wait in line for Bernie Sanders (San Diego Rally, March 2016)

bernie-car-2016-crate

We had less than 48 hours to gather for the Bernie Sanders rally at the San Diego Convention Center, the same venue that hosts SD Comic-Con.

I knew the event opened at 5pm, and Bernie spoke at 8. I suspected if I got to the center by 5pm, I might make it inside to see my presidential hopeful. Knowing the time commitment that already represented, I opted to take a leisurely early dinner with another Bernie supporter, munching on fried duck skins and seafood salad (at barleymash — delicious). Another friend of ours dropped a pin so we could meet him in line.

We followed the dotted line on my phone, past people lined up outside the front of the convention center, through the stairway in the middle, and out to the back lawn and wharf. Miles of supporters formed a snake that reached both ends of the embarcadero and doubled (tripled?) in its center. This exceeded my expectations, to put it lightly.

I have never been so happy to wait in a line, and it’s not just because I was buzzed off the two IPAs I had with lunch. Not only was the joy surrounding me contagious, but also people were courteous, never over-eager about their place in the queue, never territorial.  That Nintendo DS I mentioned to entertain myself? Didn’t open it once. Above all, I was just thrilled to be there, to be another body on the ground, showing my support. Being a part the 10,000 or 15,000 or 20,000 headcount (numbers seem to vary depending if news sources count who actually made it in, who stood in line, and who showed up in total).

I texted a picture of (just a portion of) the line to my dad, and he said, “That is a beautiful image.”

bernie sandiers line san diego 2016 convention center

The sun had set by the time we neared the front of the Convention Center building. Out from the dark road came blaring red lights, and cheers roared at the realization that this was Bernie’s motorcade.

By then the line was moving in a brisk march. To my happy surprise, I made it into the overflow room.

bernie-sanders-rally-SD-overflow-room-2016

Before the end of his speech, my hands were sore from clapping, my throat dry from hollering, and my feet tired from standing. My face hurt from smiling. Then, I was hit with this sudden, poignant feeling. I realized, if he doesn’t win, I will be genuinely sad. I have never agreed so much with a candidate, never felt so much hope, and never cared so much about the outcome of a race. This feeling nested in my heart for the rest of the night.

You’ve got to win this, Bernie. You have just got to win.

Just Drive

 

 

I am beyond the days of earning my fun. Why then, would I drive to Santa Ana to see Le Butcherettes open for a band I don’t know, on a Sunday night? I could have put Sin Sin Sin on the turntable and drank a much nicer beer than Bud Light for my $8.
Le-butcherettes-observatory-santa-ana-ticket-2014

I let myself run late. I couldn’t be hurried for fun. What is this, a job? Do I always have to try to get my money’s worth? So what, I’ll miss a couple songs. So what, I might miss them all together (right, traffic is a thing) and just have to watch the headliner. I let these trivial worries go and I just drove.

I could hear Bang! from outside and I knew we were late, but not too late.

I saw Teri Gender Bender, the lead singer, dance. I saw her pulsate and shake in a way that defies sexually-charged gazes. I dare you to objectify me. I heard her waa-ooo and aaah-aah in an extended breakdown of Leibniz Language. “I never knew you, no no.” I saw her gesture to her drummer, and not being seen, hesitate. She materialized from the disembodied voice in my headphones into a real person, wearing a bloody apron, and her feet were on fire, “en fuego.”

And so, after enjoying the warm night air on the patio for awhile during the switching of the bands, when I realized my date was just as tired as me, I decided we ought to just go home. I don’t know who Antemasque is. I did know I was happy, and I had a good night, and I saw what I wanted to see. So I just drove.