Category Archives: Social Networking

Did Evite and Facebook Ruin Commitment?

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?

David Allen on Twitter and Cocktail Parties

I recently heard David Allen’s commentary on Twitter. He’s an experimental user and has some good thoughts on its utility. One thing he said particularly stood out to me as a nice heuristic when determining the bounds of my commitments to others and myself:

Am I going to too many cocktail parties this week? Or should I be going to more cocktail parties this week given what I’m doing?

The answer to those two questions, especially the second one, helps one discern whether or not to even go to cocktail parties…period. If you can’t answer “yes, I should be going to more cocktail parties…but for reasons X and Y, I can’t,” it’s time to reevaluate why you’re even going.

Each time a potential commitment arises, ask “what am I doing in life right now?” If it has changed since the last time you took on such a commitment, reconsider whether or not you should take it on again. If you shouldn’t, don’t.

“Wisdom of Crowds” Needs a New Name.

Awhile back I wrote about the concept of wisdom of crowds. And I referenced a great explanation of the dangers of its extremes. After a bit of thought, I’ve determined that “wisdom of crowds” needs a new name. Or rather, we need to do a better job communicating its uniqueness from other types of group thought. “Mob rule” is a bad thing, and it sounds bad too. “Group think” is also bad, but it doesn’t sound as bad as “mob rule.” Mob rule isn’t wisdom, group think isn’t wisdom, and, quite frankly, we need to realize there is objective wisdom that “the crowd” misses.

Let’s not kid ourselves. A lot of us make unwise decisions every day. Just because there are more of us doesn’t mean we’re suddenly wise.