Saturday, October 27, 2012

Flakiness via text message

Texting and instant messaging make it easier to navigate our social lives, but they are also turning us into ill-mannered flakes. Not long ago, the only way to break a social engagement, outside of blowing off someone completely, was to do it in person or on the phone. An effusive apology was expected, or at least the appearance of contrition.

But now, when our fingers tap our way out of social obligations, the barriers to canceling have been lowered. Not feeling up for going out? Have better plans? Just type a note on the fly (“Sorry can’t make it tonight”) and hit send.

And don’t worry about giving advance notice. The later, the better. After all, bailing on dinner via text message doesn’t feel as disrespectful as standing up someone, or as embarrassing.

New Yorkers with social-driven ambitions and hyper schedules seem to be especially prone to this. And it is practically endemic among those in their 20s and younger, who were raised in the age of instant chatter. ...

“People don’t feel bad shooting someone a text to cancel, but no one would ever pick up the phone and say, ‘Let’s have dinner next week because I want to go to this party instead,’ ” said Danielle Snyder, 27, a founder of the jewelry line Dannijo. “But when you say it out loud, you realize how bad it sounds.” ...

Rachel Libeskind, a 23-year-old artist who lives in TriBeCa, is constantly navigating her social circles from her iPhone. She finds that she’ll triple- or even quadruple-book plans on weekend nights, knowing there’s only a 60 percent chance she’ll engage in any of them. ...

Moreover, it’s not considered boorish when her peers abandon one another. “Because there is very little at stake in terms of having these plans, it’s not that rude,” she said. “It’s implicit because that’s how everyone is operating.” ...

Ms. Medine added that she would often R.S.V.P. to five events a night, knowing there’s little chance she would attend them all. “I don’t think any plan is a plan until you’re inside the restaurant looking at someone else,” she said.
--Caroline Tell, NYT, on the commitment-free commitment