Seriously, how hard is it to be on time?!
A couple of months ago, a friend of mine who’d been living in London was in town. We hadn’t seen each other for nearly a year, and I was chomping at the bit to do brunch.
It was the first day in two-and-a-half weeks that I was able to sleep in, but I hauled myself out of bed four hours earlier than I needed to, showered, dressed, painstakingly applied my makeup, and was fifteen minutes from walking out the door when my phone sprang to life.
“Hey babez. Totes soz but I won’t b abl to make it 2 brunch. Jet lag has set in sumthing fierce, can’t get out of bed lolz. Catch up next week?”
No. We couldn’t catch up next week, because I was going to New York for eight months next week. Which I had told her three times. I took a deep breath and pointedly texted back.
“Totes fine. I’ll see ya when I get back from NY, k? Only 8 months to wait!”
Welcome to the wonderful world of digital communication, where speaking no longer requires skill. Whether it’s texting, Facebook invites, or even private messages on Twitter, the modern age keeps inventing more and more ways for us to ditch each other with minimal fuss.
In the old days, you had one technological way of reaching someone; the landline. Therefore, the only way of cancelling an invitation was to physically pick the phone up, scroll through your teledex, dial the number, hope they were home, and have the awkward conversation about what could possibly be more important than spending quality time with quality friends.
Needless to say, “I’m too tired” doesn’t sound all that convincing when you hear it out loud. As such, people sucked up their petty perceived inhibitions and made the best of things, gaining wonderful memories in the process. The only thing you gain by piking via text is the crushing devastation of watching the season five finale of Game of Thrones…alone.
Texting removes confrontation. You don’t feel the jitters of telling a white lie. You also don’t have to look at the crushed, crestfallen faces of friends as you let them down, or hear their voices tremble through the earpiece. There’s nothing easier than tapping out the word ‘soz’ on your iPhone, hitting ‘send’, and not checking your inbox for the rest of the evening.
Don’t get me wrong; I am far from exempt. The amount of special occasions I’ve missed because of alleged headaches, tiredness, late-running trains, forgotten appointments, my house flooding (although that actually happened) is obscene. If you look at my message history, it’s a wonder I make it to work every morning. It’s all just so…convenient.
This convenience has manifested the laziest generation of friends ever. Facebook doesn’t help; we’ve all clicked ‘Maybe’ on an event invite we know full well we can attend, just in case something better comes along.
I can’t work out why it’s such an issue to just commit. Is it an ego thing? Do people really think Amy Schumer is going to rock up on their doorstep brandishing chocolates and a Margarita, saying, “Hey, you’re the coolest person ever, come jump in my private jet and we’ll go party in Vegas”?
Perhaps it’s because we’re also the least lonely generation of friends ever. It’s not hard to be thoroughly entertained in the confines of your own home when Netflix is a mere handful of change a month, you can vicariously experience friendships while text commentating The Bachelor from the comfort of your couch, and there’s always someone at the ready to goss with on Snapchat.
Seeing your friends is no longer the big deal it once was because they’re there every time you click on your Facebook app. Arriving on time when you actually do make the effort to physically see them in person is also no longer the critical exercise it used to be when you can warn them of your tardiness as you’re getting out of bed (who hasn’t texted ‘Stuck in traffic’ while stepping in the shower?).
This didn’t happen a few decades ago. If you said (via the landline) you’d be somewhere at 7PM, by golly, you’d be there at 7PM, and if you were more than 15 minutes late, you’d probably suffered some sort of major catastrophe and have your concerned mates frantically putting out calls to the local hospitals and morgues.
In the words of Aziz Ansari of Parks and Recreation fame, “The only polite way to cancel on people back in the day? You had to die!”
Look, I don’t have an all-encompassing solution to this problem, especially as I very much perpetuate it. Perhaps if we all swapped one text message for a phone call a day, or forbade ourselves from cancelling anything less than 12 hours in advance. We could even (shock, horror) spend one day a week WITHOUT USING FACEBOOK. There’s no telling what extraordinary feats we would achieve with all that priceless spare time.
Oh who am I kidding. I’d probably just watch Netflix instead.
Images via thegrindstone.com and pinterest.com