Let’s set the scene: You’re doing your never-ending scroll on Facebook, complete with engagement photos, vague statuses about how someone you know from school “realises who their true friends are now”, and videos of dogs and babies being friends, and then bam! A notification! For an event! And you probably do what lots of people do, which is take a cursory look before selecting “Maybe” as your RSVP.
Well, I’m here to tell you it doesn't have to be like this, and that 99% of the time it’s a trash thing to do! Let’s be honest, the majority of the time we all use this as a cowardly way of saying “I have absolutely no intention of going but saying no feels awkward if I don’t have a sufficient excuse” or “If I outright say no I will never be invited to another thing again.” It can even be shorthand for “I want to see who’s going before I commit my time.” You saying “maybe” when you mean “no” might seem OK in the moment but that’s forgetting how LOADS of people have the same idea! And that turns things into a bit of a mess. We’ve all had to try to organise something, regardless of whether it’s involved asking people IRL or doing it online, and anybody will tell you that gauging numbers for how many people will be coming is downright impossible because nobody wants to really say whether they want to show up. And none of us are very good at making life easier for one another on that front.
Of course your friend’s housewarming party is not on the same level as a wedding – where you absolutely without fail MUST let them know because they’re spending precious money on your attendance – but being upfront with people means opening up the opportunity for them to be more upfront with you next time you have something going on. And I know that life happens – nobody becomes a social pariah after changing their mind on whether they want to go to a friend’s barbecue – but if you find yourself doing it all the time when you know you have no real interest in it, it’s definitely time to stop. On a selfish level it even works out better for you. Who hasn’t felt the guilt of clicking “maybe” on something you didn’t intend on going to, and then on the day of the event realising you never actually clarified whether you’d be showing up and feel a teeny bit guilty while watching Netflix? Exactly – it works out better for everyone involved to just be honest.
Just imagine a real-life scenario of someone asking you if you can make it to their dinner party. Now imagine yourself saying “Hmmmm…perhaps” or “I’m keeping my options open.” Super weird, right? It feels easier to be flaky online because there are absolutely no consequences, which is why loads of us feel comfortable cancelling via text but would feel bad if we had to talk to someone in person about it. But respecting other people’s time is a nice thing to do, and an easy thing to do. Even if it feels douchey, most people would prefer to just know whether you actually intend on being there, so it’s the more considerate option.
In most areas of life we could all be a little better at saying no, whether it’s to decline an invitation, to turn down work you’re not currently able to do, or to refuse to pretend something isn’t bothering you when it is. And if saying no just feels like too much confrontation anyway – don’t reply! People will take the hint! Let’s be honest – stuff comes up, people flake or change their minds, but it’s a tiny thing that helps all of us to be a little bit less of a dick with absolutely no effort on your part whatsoever. As for people who say yes and then flat-out don’t show up? Those truly awful people warrant their own entirely different post altogether.