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suppose they gave a party and nobody clicked 'yes'
répondez s'il vous plaît
by adam kraemer (@DryWryBred)
pop culture

I don't think it will come as a shock to anyone who knows what I'm talking about that it occasionally surprises me when I receive an e-mail from Friendster.

"Friendster? I'm still on that thing?"

(Actually, I just tried to log on. I remember neither my login name nor my password. So there's that.)

However, I do remember, back before Facebook had become the ridiculously dominant stand-out in the social networking milieu, being a member of Friendster. Because why not? It was legit at one point. Like Prodigy. And Betamax. And eVite.

Now, I know some of you are saying, "But I still use eVite." No you don't. You might think you do, but you don't. I think I've received maybe two invitations on eVite in the past year, and neither of them were from you. In fact, this past week's "Family Guy," featured two men discussing the wonderful things you can do with eVite, followed by the tagline, "eVite: tell a friend and then kill yourself." And since you're reading this, you're alive, and since you're alive, you obviously don't use eVite. Q.E.D.

Of course now Facebook has basically taken over eVite's job. You can create events, invite whomever you want without having to know their e-mail addresses (though they have to be members of Facebook, which some might argue is a tick in the "plus" column for eVite), and have your party, meeting, concert, or surgery appear on their e-mail, calendar, homepage, smart phone, subconscious, etc.

It's all pretty simple, which, I'm told, is one of the main goals of technology. To help us do things more easily. Faster. Better. Little. Yellow. Different. Sorry.

For example, I swear I cannot remember how I ever met up with my friends before we all had cell phones and e-mail. I can only assume we called each other on land lines, made plans in advance, and then showed up on time wherever we were supposed to be. But I don't honestly remember doing it. I can't recall one instance of calling someone and saying, "Let's meet in Davis at 8:30 and head to the Bow and Arrow." I have to assume I did because I remember meeting my friends there, but I don't remember actually making that call.

This goes not only for meeting up with people, but also for bar-hopping. I mean, before it was possible to get a text saying "Where r u?" and respond with, "Kate's, but we're going to Fubar soon," did we just stay in one place? Or did we assume that anyone who didn't show up within, say, an hour of the planned time probably wasn't coming and could be, therefore, left behind? I swear I don't remember. Which might actually be a side effect of said bar-hopping.

And now, with Foursquare (or Facebook check-in), you can even just post where you are and people can see your post and find you. Usually. And, honestly, I really appreciate it all, this added utility in my life. But I feel as though it's come with a cost.

And that cost is personalization. I mean, I can literally invite 200 people to my birthday party, see that 30 of them RSVPed, and have 20 actually show up. I feel as though back in the day (for the purposes of this column "the day" will be defined as October 10, 1997), you pretty much knew who was coming to your event and they pretty much felt obligated to attend if they said they would. Because you talked to each other. I actually called people on the phone or spoke to them in person and I knew that if someone said "yes" they would be there. And if they said "maybe" they might be there. I assume you can figure out what "no" means.

It means no, people.

These days, it seems like we just send these invites out into the transom and some people respond, some don't, whoever shows up is totally up in the air and maybe someone will text you around 10 to find out if you're still where you said you'd be. The thing is for me, at least, that's not the case. Every single eVite or Facebook invite that I receive I respond to. Because it's the right thing to do.

When I get a meeting invite at work, do I ignore it? Of course not. And those meetings usually aren't even contingent on being friends with the rest of the invitees (that would be weird - "I can't go to the startup meeting because Susan will be there." What?). So why ignore invites from people I actually do consider friends?

I know I'm not the only one. There are others who will respond, even if it's just in the negative. And I want to express my appreciation for those of you who do take the 3.2 seconds it takes to hit the button with your preferred reply. If that. 1.4 seconds? It's not like we're asking you to sit down and write a letter of reply. "Per your Facebook invite on the 15th of March, Julius regrets he will be unable to attend."

Sometimes I get this excuse, "Well, I didn't want to respond because I didn't know if I was going to be free that night." They invented a button for that. It's labeled "maybe." Do you know why it's labeled "maybe"? Because it means, "I don't know if I'm going to be free that night." Kind of a no-brainer, folks.

In the end, though, I feel like it's just common courtesy, or at least it should be. I've taken at least 5 minutes to write up an invite, I felt inclined to include you because I assume we enjoy each other's company, and I don't think it's an unreasonable expectation that you click a response. Let me know if I'm missing something here. Other than you, since you've been gone away. I ain't missing you at all.


I suppose it could be just part of a larger trend, perhaps toward that always-linked-inness (sure, it's a word) that I was talking about earlier. "I don't need to respond; I'll just text him on the way if it turns out I can make it." Or maybe people just aren't as polite or considerate as they used to be, though I do hope that's not the case. To quote Lady Aberlin: "Mean people suck."

The topic of this column was initially suggested to me by my friend Carolin, who actually wrote, "people's inabiltity to RSVP to things," so I know I'm not alone in this complaint. In fact, my guess is that many of the people (you people) who can't be bothered to click a button probably still get annoyed when they send out an invite that also garners little response. I like to hope they do. And maybe they cry a little and watch reruns of ALF. Maybe.

Regardless, I know I can't compel you click a response. I'm pretty sure that's in the Constitution. But if this column has done nothing else (and I know it hasn't), perhaps it's gotten you to think on what it says about you when you don't bother to afford your friends the courtesy of a simple, simple response. And perhaps next time you will make that ridiculously small effort.

Yes? No? Maybe?


A native of Elkins Park, PA, Adam Kraemer spends way too much of his time repeating "K-R-A-E..." He moved to New York City in 1998 and earned Master's in Journalism at NYU; don't let his writing fool you. He feels he is best known for saying the things no one is thinking, but afterwards wish they had been. He spends his free time wondering where all his free time goes and why he can never come up with a decent kicker for the ends of his articles.

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