BAM Family

BAM Family

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Lost Art of the RSVP: Why is it so hard to click "not attending"?

I kinda chewed out some of my former students on Facebook today.

Ok, maybe "chewed out" is a little harsh. But I gave them a short life lesson about the need for RSVPing to an invitation. I felt kind of guilty afterwards but this is an issue that has been bothering me for a a few years or so...

This is what I wrote after I sent a Facebook invitation for our weekly Sunday Supper meal:

Ok, ya'll. I'm going to go a little "teacher-mode" on you here. If you are coming, please click, "coming."  If you are not coming, click "Decline." It is NOT rude to say you are NOT coming. It is polite.

Any personal invitation you receive should get a response from you! Don't be a flaky "millennial"! (yes, I just went there. Sorry...)

Ok, I am done. :) I hope to see many of you on Sunday night. We have been having a great time in the past weeks.

The "flaky millennial" was probably a low blow. I am cringing a little bit now. BUT! But...

Seriously, RSVPing for events is a lost art in our culture, be it a problem of the millennial generation or not. 

Almost 100 years ago, Emily Post, Miss Manners herself, wrote that anyone who received an invitation with RSVP (French for Répondez s'il vous plaît, literally "Reply if it pleases you") was obligated to respond (thank you, wikipedia). 

Today, we invite 4 times as many people than can actually fit in our dining rooms because we know that 3/4 of them won't even respond. 

I host a lot of events: weekly dinner parties, a book club this past summer, play dates, the occasional product party...and the lack of RSVPing is seen in every age group. 

Why is this? I try to think of my own motives for not responding to invitations because I know I am guilty of this too. 

Like most people, invitations flood my inbox and pop up on my Facebook newsfeed all the time: baby showers, Pampered Chef parties, Arbonne parties, birthday parties, JamBerry nail events, City block parties, etc. 

Sometimes I know the person has invited every single person on his or her friend list. I usually ignore these, especially if, say, the Pampered Chef party held in Kansas. 

But other times, when the invitation is from a personal friend, the decision to RSVP is a bit more complicated: 

What day is the 4th?
Will I even have the car that day? (We only have one car)
What time is the event? Ug. I'm so tired in the evenings.
Not another mom entrepreneur party!

When my thoughts lean toward the negative or "that's not my thing," it feels like the easiest thing to do is ignore the invitation. After all, they won't miss me! They invited 65 people to that party!

But...then the old truism of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" starts pricking my conscience. I want people to respond to my events "yes" or "no" (I really despise the "maybe" option in Facebook but it is better than nothing!) so I needed to start practicing what I preach and actually RSVP "no," even if it feels uncomfortable. 

And, when I look at the event from my vantage point as the hostess, I realized a few things about the dreaded "no."

A "no" is not rude or mean, nor does it tell the hostess that you don't like her! It just means that you aren't coming to the shower...or dinner...or play date. 

A "no" is just a firm commitment not to attend, instead of the vague "none of the above" option which leaves the hostess wondering if people actually got the invitation in the first place (they did).
A "no" is actually polite because it allows the hostess to plan the event, food, and other guests accordingly. 

So, I've really tried to make an effort to RSVP "no" when I can't or don't want to attend an event (no one has to know the reason! A cheerful "Thanks for the invite! I hope you all have a great time" is a nice way to decline). 

Ultimately, I've come to realize that actively responding to personal invitations, be it paper (wedding invitations, anyone?) email, or Facebook, is one way that I can love my neighbor as myself. 

If the person hosting the event is taking the time to plan the party, dinner, girls-night-out, play date, or wedding, and invite me to be a part of it, then the most loving thing to do is to RSVP instead of ignore the invitation, even if the response is the uncomfortable "no." 

What do you think
Why don't we RSVP anymore? 
Is this a new issue? 
A generational problem? 
A "we are too busy" problem? 
A "waiting to see if I get a better invitaiton on that day" problem?
I am genuinely perplexed by this issue! 

1 comment:

Laurel Johnson said...

I HEAR YA. It completely perplexes me every time I am inviting classmates to one of my boys' birthdays. I send out paper invitations in the mail, or put them in the school mailboxes, or I have also sent out email invites, and NOT ONE PERSON responds. Unless I manage to ask them face to face or send them a follow-up email.(Exception: if I know the parent well and my child is extra-special friends with the kid, I may get one or two responses.) Maybe if I waited longer, some of them would finally reply the day before the party or something, but I am not willing to let it go that long without knowing if I should continue planning the party or not. I admit that I often ignore mass FB invites, but if it is clearly a personal invite sent to 10 or fewer people, then I think it is polite to RSVP right away.

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