Where Are All The Attendees?

Attending seven different Christmas events on Facebook before the end of term? EREN KILICH tells you not to be such a filthy liar.

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Facebook has undoubtedly changed the way we socialise, but has the advent of online invitations heralded a new era of insincerity?

Watch an episode of “Friends” and you will undoubtedly see the protagonists reclining on the iconic Central Perk sofa taking sips from cappuccinos in between casually cracking out one-liners and lamenting the tribulations of life in the Big Apple. The fact that the central characters met in the same coffeehouse through all ten seasons eventually became a joke on the show itself. You would be forgiven for attributing this to an insatiable caffeine addiction induced by stress in the city, or perhaps the alluring charm of the hunky barista Gunther.

It is no coincidence that the final series of “Friends” aired in 2004 – the same year that Facebook was launched. For Facebook heralded the end of the “Friends” mode of social discourse.

It’s difficult to image how anyone ever organised social events without Facebook. When a friend of mine asked his older sister how she had coped without it, she replied that her friends had met in the same pub at the same time every night. Though with a British twist, this is reminiscent of the coffee house meeting of characters in “Friends”. Our dependance on Facebook has destroyed this.

Whilst the ubiquity of Facebook events has made planning and finding out about social occasions much easier, there is definitely an undercurrent of insincerity that has come to characterise the response to these “modern” invitations. For some reason it’s acceptable to click ‘attending’ on an event and then not turn up, which as far as I’m concerned is pretty much tantamount to spitting in the face of the event organiser. You wouldn’t RSVP by letter or phone and then unashamedly refuse to turn up, so why do it on Facebook?

For some it is to maintain the pretence of being a sociable person who is always up for a night out and has never missed doing the double Cindies. In reality, whilst they’ll be up all night, it will be in the library finishing an essay rather than tearing up the dance floor in Fez.

Whilst there are those who mistake “I’m attending” for “I kinda want to go to this but will probably stay in for some alone time instead”, I am even more bemused by those who RSVP “maybe” without an explanation. This is merely a reiteration of what I already know. When I invited you to the event I did so knowing that you might come; your reply has meant nothing. It just seems for the most part to be used by those who are very unlikely to attend an event but cannot bear to suffer the indignity of being one of those fun-spongesnot attending”. Not replying at all is even more pointless.

It’s so easy to instinctively click “attending” without much deliberation, and so it seems that the price of convenience in the digital age has come at the cost of sincerity. Why can’t we put a little more thought into replying to Facebook event invitations, particularly when they are to important events, such as birthdays, where the organisers will need accurate responses?

Maybe Ross and Chandler didn’t get out enough, but at least they lived in a simpler time, when you actually turned up to something when you said you would.