I’ve been pondering the paradox of social media for quite some time – that social media, designed to make people more sociable, actually makes us more anti-social.
Yes, we may be invited to more events; more house parties, dinner dates and pub nights, but the way in which we respond to such invitations is anti-social. If we even respond at all.
It’s the immediacy of online, of texts, of snap chats, of emails; we don’t organise ourselves, or feel that we need to be organised until the last-minute. Back in the day, before the technological noughties, if you said you’d meet someone at a pub at 7pm, you’d meet someone at the pub at 7pm. How different the story is today, how casually we drop the text apologising and saying we’re running 30 minutes late. But are we really sorry? No, if we were sorry, we wouldn’t do it time and time again.
The ‘bailer’ is another phenomenon who has peaked in contemporary times. The ‘bailer’ accepts invitations, whole-heartedly states that they will be in attendance, and then in the final lead up to the event, ‘bails’. Bailers have been known to bail on the day itself, and they normally do this via text. They don’t even have the decency to call – an act that cannot be described as anything but anti-social, especially when paired with a dire excuse, such as ‘working late’, or a ‘work event’, or ‘forgot I was supposed to be seeing my granny’. All of which I award ASBOs (anti-social behaviour orders) to. You have enough technology around you to make sure that you don’t forget. Forgetting is not an option. Organise yourself.
A case study: remember my summer in the South of France? Well, during the second week of this trip I got a text message from an invitee. The text message arrived on the Thursday telling me that they wouldn’t be able to make it out – which considering that the other guests had arrived on the previous Sunday, and that this guest was invited the week before them…well, it’s just laughable.
More recently – and indeed the reason for this blog – was Saturday night and a Light Dragoons’ party up in Norfolk. Numerous friends and I were invited to this party; we all said yes. Last Monday hits –a mere five days until kick off – welcome to prime bailing time. The texts flood in; bang after bang after bang, the anti-social shots are fired. Out of the people I was invited with, I was the only one who went.
I admit that leaving home in 35 degree heat (and the allure of a cool swimming pool) and getting into an overheated car to embark upon a 2 hour journey up North didn’t come without complaint. ‘I don’t want to goooo,’ I moaned while turning on the Sat Nav and bidding my puppy farewell, ‘it’s so hot.’ But, I’d made a commitment – and when you make a commitment you bloody well follow it through.
In this case, I cannot tell you how happy I was that I did. What a party! Peter Pan-themed, I’d never been to anything like it before; a man-made miniature lake acted as our dance floor, a ship overlooked us, stationed in which was the DJ, budgies (as in the actual birds) flew around the marquee, fireworks glittered through the sky at midnight and a crocodile rodeo drew in drunken challengers (I have the bruises to prove it). It was a fantastic, incredible, nay epic night.
And the bailers? Those who fribbled away this wonderful party; perhaps they have bailers’ remorse, but will it stop them in future? I doubt it. Etiquette to them is the rock to Sisyphus – they will never quite get there. So damn you Mark Zuckerburg, damn you Jack Dorsey: you’ve succeeded from behind the safety net of your code and created a world where yourselves and the anti-social thrive.