We are a generation of flakes and something needs to change
The endemic culture of bailing
The fleeting name change of Ticketbridge to Flakebridge got me thinking about just how endemic flaking has become among our generation. Bailing last minute or not responding to texts and calls has never been more acceptable.
But at best, it's a sign of unreliability; at worst, it's just downright rude. People barely even think to apologise when they text you half an hour before you're due to meet to tell you "I'm really tired" or "I've got too much work" or "I've got to be up early tomorrow."
It seems that we no longer value principles such as punctuality, reliability or even sincerity. What makes people think it's okay to ignore a text, or message you on the night saying you're "not feeling it anymore"? I accept that life is fast-paced and unpredictable, particularly at Cambridge, but that surely doesn't mean we are incapable of taking a moment to stop and think before making an arrangement.
My time is a valuable asset and if I make a plan to meet you, that means I want to see you and I have set aside time specifically for you, even though there are a thousand and one other things I could be doing. To me, this seems like common decency.
And what's the excuse for not responding to a text or a call from a friend? It is essentially the equivalent of someone seeing you in the street and saying 'hey!' and you utterly blanking them. Incredibly rude, right? Maybe stop and think next time you leave someone on read.
I blame three things for this toxic culture of constant cancellations. One, FOMO; two, tech; and three, a tendency to want to avoid confrontation.
For those of you not in the know, FOMO stands for 'Fear Of Missing Out.' Too often, I ask someone if they want to do something one night and I receive a response of 'Maybe!' What?? Either you do want to, or you don't. I'd rather not be your backup plan, thanks. People don't like to commit, because they might have other options. Or they do commit, and then bail last minute because something better came up. Either way, it's not acceptable.
Thirty years ago, cancelling last minute was not really an option. Or, at least, it was, but you would have to ring your friend on a landline phone to recite your excuse. Which seems somehow less appealing than firing off a carefully-crafted Facebook message. It's too easy to hide behind a screen – and you might never have to face up to the consequences of bailing on someone or ignoring their text, which makes it all the more tempting.
The interconnectedness of the world has changed the way we conduct our lives, and we cannot escape that. But that surely doesn't mean we abandon common courtesy?
Avoidance of confrontation
I recently read the following passage in a Cosmopolitan article about "why people are flaky" (as if it's justifiable):
"There's no good way to break up with a friend. The closest thing (for those of us too uncomfortable to have a real talk with the friend, anyway) is to purposely distance yourself from someone in a non-obvious, non-hurtful way by breaking plans a few times in a row."
OK. So people feel awkward about confrontation and being direct. But that shouldn't justify insincerity. And let's not kid ourselves that cancelling on someone last minute is 'non-hurtful.' It can be very hurtful, especially if you don't know whether the excuse is genuine; it can leave you worrying and overanalysing the whole situation. The sad thing is that flaky people often don't even realise they're doing anything wrong.
Ultimately, it seems that directness is no longer valued. People would rather hide behind their iPhone screen than face the reality. We are living in a world where everything is at our fingertips – but this is at the cost of decency, honesty and politeness.
All images are the author's own.