This past Sunday I hosted a small brunch for my sister and a few of her friends, at which my aunt would come and teach us how to bake Challah. With a small apartment and a need for an exact head count I told my sister that I would have to know by Friday exactly how many girls were going to come. I wanted to prepare the right amount of food and get folding chairs out of storage if I needed them, so knowing precisely how many people would be there was important to me.
When Sunday morning came we experienced the usual friends trickling in fifteen to thirty minutes late, but after forty minutes had gone by and one girl still hadn’t showed, my sister expected her friend would text and bail. Thankfully, she didn’t. Everyone showed up and we had a great time together, eating while baking, and then eating what we baked. But after everyone left my aunt, sister, and I began talking about how rare it is for everyone to actually show up anymore. How normal but still rude it is that we now expect our friends to text at the last minute saying they can’t make it.
Just that night I found an article on The New York Times online about this exact topic- the normalcy of last minute texting and bailing for my generation. Though the article’s author seems to agree with me that this practice is rude and tactless, the article ends with testimonials from others of my generation, asserting that this practice is actually efficient and valuable. Essentially, last-minute bailing via text message, the article argues, is an effective way to maximize one’s opportunities and minimize personal damage. You get to RSVP to more parties than you can attend and you don’t even need to personally hurt someone by actually calling to cancel. Sending a text message is so impersonal, it only saves the relationship, right?
Wrong. Recognizing that we all know texting is impersonal, I just think it is all the more rude to cancel plans that way. It’s like your friend saying to you, “I’m too much of a woos to cancel by phone, so I’m going to take the easy way out and text you.” I think it is just a bit more evidence to show the rampant narcissism of my generation. This isn’t to say that I don’t do it, too. I do occasionally text-and-bail, and I do feel like a jerk as I do it. But I do it anyway. And that’s bad.
This is why I’ve decided I’m going to make it a goal of mine to stop doing that. I need to promise myself to stop making plans I know I won’t stick to, and to start showing up to the plans that I do commit to, no matter what the circumstances.
How weird is it that just showing up can be considered a kindness these days? Is Hurricane Sandy a sign of the moral apocalypse? Is the world coming to an end because we are all so selfish and rude to our friends? …Too far?