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RSVP, Damnit

November 15, 2010

The  Near-Death of Respect (for your hosts).

I work in online marketing and social media. I’m all about Web 2.9 or whatever we’re calling it these days, and I’m the first one to pooh-pooh the Chicken Littles who complain that social media is destroying face-to-face communication, or making kids stupid, or many of the other things we dump on poor ‘lil Social Media. But if there’s one bad thing I will pin on Social Media, and Facebook (and it’s struggling predecessor in the event game – Evite) – it’s the decline of etiquette with respect to invitations.

Banish the Maybes

It started with cell phones. With mobile access, you no longer needed to nail down a specific time to hang out, or a location. You’ll just call and figure it out then. You can even be late, because you can let someone know on the run. That was the beginning. Then came E-vite and their infernal “maybe” response option. Now, you can invite someone to party by email, and they could not only respond in the affirmative or send regrets, but they could ignore it all together, or click “maybe.” It’s like with one fell swoop, people’s ability to commit to an event disintegrated. No longer could a host figure out how many kegs to buy, or who to expect. And if you spoke to someone in person, and asked if they planned on attending – usually? They were. They knew about it, it’s in their own calendar – but the idea of letting the host know? Skipped their mind.

Formal Indifference

I’m sure I’m going to get comments that say “Hey, if you wanted a formal headcount and party, what the hell are you doing inviting people on Facebook?” And, you’d be right. To  a degree. Maybe the fault lies with the host/inviter – but I still think that if you are invited to an event, no matter how the invitation is issued, you could at least do the inviter the courtesy of letting them know if you will attend, in a respectable timeframe. (hint: an hour before the party is not respectable.)

Am I the only one this drives nuts? Are you guilty of the Maybe/Ignore non-response?

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7 Comments
  1. Keren permalink
    November 15, 2010 5:20 pm

    This drives me up a tree! The only time one should use “maybe” is if it is really a maybe, and THEN with a posted explanation. Which you should update as you get a clearer idea.

    I find it very hard, as a host, to plan with no RSVPs!

  2. Frank permalink
    November 15, 2010 10:27 pm

    Confessions of a serial Mayber:

    Sometimes it’s hard for me to plan that far in the future so I procrastinate by maybeing!

  3. November 15, 2010 10:41 pm

    It drives me nuts enough to not want to plan events anymore. Sad.

  4. Jen M. permalink
    November 16, 2010 2:57 pm

    I use “maybe,” but if I do, I put in an explanation, and as soon as I know, I go and change the RSVP to a definite “yes” or “no.” (Nos always have an explanation, too.)

    I don’t mind Maybes, as long as they do what I do and give a definitive answer later. A “maybe” with no kind of comment, to me, is as good as a “no,” and I don’t plan with those people in mind. Easy-peasy.

  5. November 16, 2010 11:10 pm

    I don’t like to commit to (smaller) events. Due to social phobia and all my assorted issues and awkwardness, my desire and ability to actually attend can change minutes before I’m due to leave. Or I just feel guilty because I truly have NO desire to go out on a Tuesday night to a frou-frou club 45 minutes from my house. Plus I have some friends who are CRAZY with the planning, and it’s just like…ENOUGH. I’m not talking weddings or other big/formal events (those require paper invitations, and RSVP cards). I’m talking 40 events posted every few days like “Let’s go to the Bowling Alley in 3 1/2 months!” The guilt tripping (“But you HAVE to come!”) is the worst. So I just say “maybe” to avoid that BS.

  6. November 24, 2010 8:42 pm

    though i totally understand all your points and can see why someone would get annoyed by this, it totally doesn’t bother me at all. i feel like facebook isn’t really a place for straight up serious invitation. there are soooo many promoters on facebook that use it to let hundreds or thousands of people know about events at once that it can get really tiring to rsvp to all of them. if i rsvp’d to all my facebook invites it would waste hours of my life. it’s also incredibly easy to miss a facebook invite.

    however, that doesn’t mean we should lose etiquette completely. i agree that some people really overdo it. they don’t respond to facebook invites, or emails directly addressed to them, or phone calls or texts.. i mean c’mon. =P

  7. November 27, 2010 9:58 pm

    I completely agree that it is inconsiderate not to respond to an invitation at all, however, the very inclusion of the ‘maybe’ option (as you mention with the advent of Evite) automatically downplays the importance of making a decision on the guest’s part. I plan many corporate and private events and never ask for tentative responses. Yes or No + a deadline to respond! However, I also believe that sending an invitation via Facebook or Evite is a very informal way to notify your guests of an event. Both of these social media platform’s invitations seem mass mail-y which, in turn, does not compel guests to make a definite decision. Invites that have no personalization or seem like they were blasted to tons of people get ignored because the guest does not feel special. If you are looking for a guaranteed response, I recommend designing your own invitation and emailing directly to guests. Even better if you can follow up with a phone call or send something via snail mail. And always ask for a date that responses should arrive. Events are more likely to have confirmed attendees when those that have been invited feel like you really want THEM there [and not your entire ‘friends’ list]
    xxooxx

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