Thursday, May 14, 2009


-People who use Facebook to promote their (presumably mediocre, but I've never bothered to find out) bands, inviting everyone they ever said hello to in high school to their band's every show: Seriously people. Not that you care, dear musically-inclined acquaintances from high school, but defriending may ensue.

-People who use Evite RSVPs to self-promote: It's already unfortunate that we the (potential) guests must know who is, isn't, or might be coming to a party before the event. But is it really necessary to know that Person A can't come because she has five other parties to attend the same night, or that Person B's job is so important that he has to work Saturday nights, making him a "Maybe"? Or Person C, whose fiancé is in town, or Person D, who will be at Cannes.... It's always something glamorous. No one ever says "Maybe" because "I'm kind of excited about what just arrived on Netflix." Even when you know that's what's behind 99% of Maybes and Nos.

-Token Non-E gripe: My apartment, after a pre-summer preventative extermination, smells horribly of that which is meant to kill any would-be exoskeletal residents. The window's open, the fan is on, and I still think working at home today might not have been the best idea. If there aren't any more posts here, it will be because I'm on my back with my legs and antennae in the air.


Miss Self-Important said...

I love that FB and Evite let me see who will be attending parties. It helps me more accurately tailor my expectations, arrival time, outfit, and anticipated alcohol intake to the demands of the situation at hand. V. important.

Also, what does it say to the poor host (presumably your friend) if you write that you'd rather watch TV than go to their party?

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

I also enjoy, to an extent, knowing who'll be there, if by 'enjoy' one means 'take advantage of the function'. But from the perspective of the host, I'm not sure it's a good idea - the information's potentially more likely to make people skip. Exes will be there, so their exes won't come. A party that looks tiny might in turn attract fewer guests who don't want to be at a tiny party, whereas someone who's invited 200 people to his tiny apartment will find that a number of his guests, figuring he wouldn't care personally if they did or didn't come, didn't come.

"Also, what does it say to the poor host (presumably your friend) if you write that you'd rather watch TV than go to their party?"

Obviously no one can ever say this, even when the host is not so much a friend as an acquaintance a rung or two closer than the high school acquaintance in the band. My point was that elaborating why you can't/might come to an event leads more often to eye-rolling than to an honest account of why people do or don't attend a given party. The RSVP can't be used as a platform for self-deprecation, because that route indirectly insults the host. It can be used honestly for things like 'I'll be out of town', but do all invited need to know this? But for whatever reason, the banal reasons are less often mentioned (OK, less salient) than the ones that make the invitee look particularly important. And I maintain that using the RSVP as a platform to make yourself look particularly important is bad form.

My point wasn't, I should be clear, that TV is preferable to 99% of parties, but that people who live in the city but declare with confidence that they have their doubts about your party weeks ahead... that there's a good chance they just don't want to come. They may end up at another party or watching TV, but they'll figure that out later.

asg said...

Another first-world problem -- the link to the Jewish Quarterly article in your sidebar is horribly broken.

My own Facebook-specific e-gripe, besides the popularity of that "pick 5" application that seems to be spreading like an invincible case of athlete's foot, is people from the distant past who send me 4-word notes of introduction. "Hey, dude, what's up?!?" does not convey a deep desire for re-connection.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

That link is gone, I think, not just broken - and I've taken it down. Thanks for the reminder.

PG said...

The person who can be certain of having Saturday night free to watch the latest movie is in a much more enviable position than the person who might need to spend Saturday night on call at the hospital or at the office on a letter to members of a class action that will be approved by a partner on Sunday and mailed on Monday.

Also, among which social circle is having one's fiance in town glamorous, and may I join it? Whenever I ducked out of summer associate drinking because my fiance was visiting, I got the sense that they thought I was prematurely old and boring. Alas, that option is gone, but does "my mother-in-law will be visiting" carry any similar cachet?

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

If your job is 9-5 and unstimulating, or if you're unemployed, or if you're in your 20th year of grad school, then the thought that someone else is needed at an important-sounding office/non-office position, then yes, that sounds glamorous.

"Also, among which social circle is having one's fiance in town glamorous, and may I join it?"

In any social circle in which there are a lot of single people (women) wishing they were otherwise, old enough for that not to sound too old, but young enough that there's a good chance they haven't met the person yet.

"I got the sense that they thought I was prematurely old and boring."

Not knowing these people, their gender, or your age, my best guess: If you were 22 and they were male, they meant it. If you were 27 and they were female, they were jealous.

"does "my mother-in-law will be visiting" carry any similar cachet?"

Not really, because although it hints at attachment, it does not hint at a weekend of passionate we-don't-see-each-other-enough sex.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

(Perhaps my response would be more convincing if I learned to check that I'd written it in grammatical sentences.)

asg said...

Oh, and about RSVPs... perhaps this is merely an outgrowth of the conversational culture & feel of the web. One would not dash off a quick explanation of one's alternate plans on a formal RSVP card, but if one receives a verbal invite, is it not common to give a reason why the invitation must be refused?

PG said...

I had several family friends return formal RSVP cards for my wedding with written explanations of why they wouldn't be able to come (sometimes even an explanation of why a particular family wasn't coming, if the invitation had been for both parents and children). These tended to be the same people who sent a gift even though they couldn't attend.

I think it depends partly on how obligated you feel; for Facebook invites I frequently will just mark a "no," especially when I can see that the invite went to hundreds of people, but if it seems to be for an event where the invitation list might have involved some thought, I want to reciprocate with a little thought in my RSVP.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

asg and PG,

Online or otherwise, if you feel more than a yes or no is needed, you can always contact the host individually, beyond the check-box, without informing everyone else invited on your should-I-or-shouldn't-I-attend? thought process. Online it's simple - put your yes-or-no answer on Facebook or Evite, but send a separate email to the host.

A separate question is what use there is in the "maybe" option, explained or otherwise.

asg said...

For Evite, surely the "maybe" option is meant to convey that the invitation was not lost or caught in a spam filter, but no definitive reply can be given. This makes the host's logistics no easier, but that can hardly be blamed on Evite.

PG said...


I guess I didn't realize exactly how troubling it was for other people to be able to see my thought process. This post and comment thread has successfully communicated that, however.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Oh, it's not that troubling, I promise. I, for one, now regret that the half-joking tone of this post didn't come across.