I’ve noticed something interesting over the past decade: commitment to social events has plummeted. When I was young, someone would plan a party or event, send out paper invitations, and get responses from people stating whether or not they were coming. It worked wonderfully. The host knew everyone got the invitation and knew how many people to plan for. It also built a sense of excitement for the get-together as people found out who else was going and speculated on what the day may hold for them.
When Evite became the normal way of sending invitations, people treated them the same as paper ones even though there was a new socially-acceptable response called “Maybe.” People responded with either a “Yes” or “No.” One or two people would say “Maybe” because of some other prior commitment that may not have ended in time. What used to be a “No” was now a viable “Maybe.” However, during the years of Evite’s reign, the “Maybe” population grew. More and more people were responding “Maybe,” not because of prior commitments, but because of subjective reasons. People confessed that they didn’t know whether or not something else might pop-up that day or if they would feel like participating the day-of.
Now that Facebook Events has begun to overthrow Evite, people have become accustomed to using “Maybe” more than “Yes”–especially if the event hasn’t reached its tipping point–the point at which an event gains momentum because of size of the “Yeses.” Often, people don’t even respond but use “Remove from my events” instead. Even the “Yes” and “No” responses aren’t certain–they tend to reflect the invitee’s excitement level about the event rather than his commitment to attend. On several occasions, a “Yes” response meant nothing because the invitee never checked her calendar.
Did Evite and Facebook ruin commitment?