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Public Bullying To Get An RSVP

I have a question that has been bothering me. I’ve noticed a trend on Facebook in regards to invitations to events (specifically children’s birthday parties.). I had a friend who created an event for her son’s 9th or 10th birthday. I’ve never met her child so I did not expect an invitation. However for weeks up to the big day she would post on her wall updates like, “I need to know exactly who is coming to Tommy’s birthday party on August 20th. I need a head count for treat bags and to make sure we have enough food”. I cringed because I knew that people who were not invited were going to see this. Sure enough a few people started leaving comments saying they’d love to come IF they had been invited to which my friend replied if they were invited they would have gotten an event notification. They didn’t get an event notification. And boy were they offended. I privately messaged her and mentioned that she can send a mail to everyone invited as a mass mailer through the events menu. I do this all the time for mine. She replied back that it’s easier to just make a post on her wall.

Has it become acceptable to do stuff like this? I know that it’s rude to discuss a party people aren’t invited to when talking among friends in a group setting, but does the same hold up for social media? I’ve seen the same done for showers and holiday parties. When I’m invited I can usually see the guest list and sometimes there are over 100+ people invited. I know the hosts/hostesses and there is absolutely no way they could host that many people. What would they do if the majority of potential guests accepted? You can’t take back the invitation can you? Do the rules for face to face interactions apply to places like Facebook and Twitter? 0926-13

Acceptable and ubiquitous are two separate definitions.  What may become commonplace in a culture may still not be acceptable.

What people often are guilty of is thoughtlessness.   They do not think ahead and conceptualize the consequences of actions they take.   So they post foolish content on Twitter or Facebook with little to no thought as to how the message will appear to others.    I had a friend post a Facebook status that said, “Partied with 50 of my closest friends this weekend!”, with no thought as to how that would appear to the 100+ other friends who had not been invited.    There were people who discovered that the depth of relationship they thought they had with her was not what they thought it was.   She did not intend to be hurtful but in being thoughtless, she inadvertently damaged some good relationships.

Your friend isn’t just thoughtless, she’s lazy.  She knows there is a better way to communicate with her guests and she chose to ignore your good advice.   She’s begging and haranguing them publicly to RSVP to her party which is certain to backfire on her.   It really is not a good idea to bully people into accepting invitations because those guests are just as likely to not show up at all at the appointed party time.



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  • Owly September 30, 2013, 10:59 pm

    Hakayama – she means her friend created an event page on Facebook for her child’s birthday party. 🙂

  • ddwwylm October 1, 2013, 2:35 am

    The mom is definitely being rude, and lazy. I won’t even post pictures of a party on facebook if the core group of local friends haven’t all been invited. It’s just rude to do so. I’ll coordinate with friends via group private messaging details for a party before I get invites out, but I always send actual mailed invites as well. I do also have friends who use the group invite events page. One admitted it was because she didn’t want to pay for invitations, though most seem to use it as just another way to organize RSVPs for the invites they send out. seems like people are getting lazier and lazier about RSVPing. Used to be you just gave a phone #. A few years ago I started adding an email address and lately I’ve added a # they can text as well. Haven’t done the FB event page yet. I have noticed though that if people don’t respond, they don’t usually show up, so I just consider those “nos” It can be nerve wracking though, when you’re making up treat bags & worried that you won’t have enough if someone does just show up. I had someone for my daughter’s last party text me the night before asking what she wanted for a present – guess she was planning on coming, she hadn’t RSVPed, I quickly put together another treat bag.

  • hakayama October 1, 2013, 9:31 am

    @Owly: I’m not “into” FB, so many thanks for clearing up the application of the term to JUST the FB.
    However, I’m afraid that DaVinci, Matisse and a few others still might feel diminished by the “create a FB event page” bit. Not to mention the Big Guy that, according to some, had a hand in placing everything here… 😉

  • Library Diva October 1, 2013, 10:06 am

    Social media etiquette is still evolving. If you think about it in the long view, it’s kind of exciting. We’re making social history, right now. In 100 years, graduate students may use anything we post here in their theses about manners and social norms in the early digital era. It’s kind of cool.

    I do think OP’s friend is being rude, creating unnecessary drama, and causing headaches she doesn’t need. I think people give the least weight to Facebook invitations of all the methods that can be used to invite someone to anything. If she seriously needs to know how many people are attending this, she should have mailed paper invitations with an RSVP deadline, and followed up via phone, text, FB message, email, whatever to those she didn’t hear from. Keeps it private and gives them more visibility.

    Facebook invites are slightly awkward. I received one last fall that I still feel funny about. It was to an open house party being held by a high school acquaintance. In looking at the guest list, it seemed that not all of his Facebook friends quite made the cut, but he did invite a large segment of them. I still can’t imagine a possible reason I would have made the cut. We weren’t good friends back then, it’s been about 20 years since I’ve seen him, and I spoke to him only once, about a professional matter at my old job. I didn’t go or respond because I figured it was a mistake, but the night of the event, he made a few posts about “hoping to see you all here soon” and stuff like that. I guess that’s what made it stick in my head. I still don’t know if I did the right thing or not.

  • Dee October 1, 2013, 11:14 am

    @Ergala – I think we are saying the same thing. That you communicate with people via Facebook does not make them friends. There were hundreds of kids that I went to grade school with and not one of them is a friend anymore, but some are acquaintances. The friend you keep in touch with via phone is more than an acquaintance, as you both are willing to invest something real into the relationship. Facebook can be used to supplement a friendship, but it can never used to create and sustain friendship. It’s too superficial for that. And if you don’t know your “friend’s” young child then that would seem to be the ultimate indicator that that “friend” is just an acquaintance. But this seems to be a distinction that is lost amongst younger people. They get all tied up in a knot about what is said by who on Facebook while they ignore the real people around them. It’s as if they can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s virtual. Is this the end result of playing too many video games during childhood instead of interacting with peers?

  • Gracie Lou Freebush October 1, 2013, 11:28 am

    I don’t mind the Facebook invites when everyone is invited because otherwise I would have misse out on fun parties. 🙂 but talking about a party where not everyone is invited is RUDE, whether you are with actual people or online.

  • Angel October 1, 2013, 11:46 am

    I think Facebook events that are anything other than public events are just asking for trouble. In the OP’s case the woman creating a Facebook event for her child’s birthday party is just being plain stupid. And mean. Asking for rsvps in a wall post, that all her friends can see (including non-invitees) is just thoughtless. It may sound petty but if I had an acquaintance “friend” on FB that did this I would probably unfriend. Just so I wouldn’t have to see the foolishness.

  • chechina October 1, 2013, 6:05 pm

    OP, click “Unfriend”. Problem solved.

  • Marguette October 1, 2013, 7:58 pm

    All she would have needed to do was to create a Facebook List of her friends made up of only the ones invited to the party, and restricted all party-related posts and photos to be visible to the list only.

  • Chris Miller October 2, 2013, 1:49 am

    I actually did go to an open-invite event recently with a large number of guests, and the Facebook page for it showed about a hundred people had been notified (plus those of us who don’t have Facebook). It was a friends’ engagement party, at a venue, and they genuinely wanted anyone who felt that they knew them well enough to show up, though I also got specifically asked by one of them if I was going to come. And while that’s got to be an exception, I can see people being confused if they can see the host asking people to RSVP, especially if she’s repeating the time/date info. Is this the invitation? Have the invitations gone out and she’s just asking publically? If you haven’t been invited, you don’t know, and if you feel like you know the host well enough to have been invited, yeah, definite confusion there, so I can’t blame the commenters for “invite-fishing” really.

  • Ergala October 2, 2013, 7:23 am

    @Dee I guess we’ll just have to disagree 🙂 Man if I limited myself to people I only see in person as friends I’d be pretty lonely. I don’t get out much at all and FB is my prime method of communication. We recently got rid of our cells because we found ourselves texting all the time. I have 1 or 2 friends who I see in person every other week for a little bit but otherwise I’m kind of stuck at home. FB is how I am able to have a friendship with people.

    One of my friends on there actually flew up here from New Mexico to help out when I had surgery in July. My husband works nights so I would have been alone with our children unable to really walk and out of my gourd on pain meds. So he flew up for 10 days and pretty much did everything. Now mind you we met in a game we all played together and chatted on FB for almost 2 years. But he still flew up without hesitation. That to me is a real friend 🙂

  • Dee October 2, 2013, 1:02 pm

    @Ergala – I know you think we are disagreeing but I read you confirming what I’m saying. You are engaging in superficial contact with people but expecting a real friendship from them. You cannot connect deeply via Facebook, messaging, emails, texting, et al. To deepen a relationship you need to converse and spend time with them, neither of which you can do with Facebook. Talking on the phone is a great way to really connect with a person, so I’m confused as to why you got rid of your phones – I get that you were using them for superficial communication, but that was your choice … The friendship you have with the friend who helped you was established in person; keeping in touch via Facebook augments that friendship, it doesn’t make it. I guess I don’t understand using one’s time on social media instead of actually talking/interacting with people and then being frustrated by loneliness. That’s why I can’t use social media – because I have so many great friends that I don’t want to lose so I have to take the time to invest in them personally, and because I have so many friends (in a way, too many, as if that’s a bad thing) I don’t have much time or energy to engage in the superficial with people who I don’t know well. I am an introvert so I really like being alone but seem to be constantly meeting these wonderful people and developing really good relationships with them. Wouldn’t work with social media at all and I would only consider using it if I wanted to cut myself off from the world. Ironic, yes.

  • Ergala October 2, 2013, 7:15 pm

    @Dee Because I hate talking on the phone. When it rings I cringe. We have a landline for normal usage but I prefer to not chat on the phone. Hence why we all chat on FB. It’s the dynamic of my “group”. We all live so far apart that it’s the best way to stay in contact. Just because one of my best friends live 4 hours away doesn’t mean we’re not best friends anymore. She comes and visits a few times a year and when we can we go visit her. She drove here when I went into labor with my youngest to watch him be born, she dropped work to do it. I don’t recall stating I’m lonely. Sometimes yes I get lonely but usually I enjoy my ME time, I don’t get it all that often. Two special needs children and a husband who is only really here on the weekends due to work, yeah I need alone time bad. When I want to chat I know that I can message them on FB. If I call them on the phone I’ll just not want to talk and I’ll zone out and miss half the conversation. This way I can focus.

    But like I said, this is how it works in my group and it works quite well. The friendships that have died out, well honestly they died out….I’m not crying over it. And those people were the ones who did not understand why I could not drop everything and go out at night..”just get a sitter!!”…um no I can’t do that sorry. They were either single with no kids or married with no kids or people who actually COULD leave their children with a sitter no problem. I don’t have that luxury. It’s one of the reason a lot of my friends from years back haven’t met my children…..it’s extremely stressful for my kids and for my husband and I.

  • Mrs. Lovett October 2, 2013, 8:57 pm

    @Dee, maybe you define friendships differently from Ergala, or maybe social media doesn’t work for friendship-building for you while it might work for other people. Reading your posts, it seems you are telling Ergala what will and won’t work for her regarding her friendships, but that’s not your call to make. Some people communicate social media, including Facebook, forums, and gaming, and really do form connections and friendships. You have every right to believe that you can’t make or maintain friendships that way, but it seems presumptuous to me that you keep insisting that it can’t possibly work for someone else. Not everyone is the same, not everyone connects in the same way, and not everyone requires physical or phone contact to maintain a real friendship.

  • Snowy October 3, 2013, 1:17 am

    @Dee, my best friend of 19 years and I would respectfully disagree with you, as would a number of happily married couples I know (and their children).

  • Dee October 3, 2013, 5:58 pm

    You do not have to have continuous physical or phone contact to maintain a real friendship, that is true. But you cannot make a friendship using social media. You wouldn’t marry someone you only know online; you wouldn’t call a pen pal a best friend. Calling people you only know through Facebook “friends” is the same disconnect. I get that younger people do not see it this way but the OP letter is a classic example of what I’m saying. Expecting a real connection and friendship from someone with whom you only contact via Facebook will only lead to disappointment. Ergala – again, I feel as if you and I are in agreement. Those people you have great and supportive relationships with are the ones where both of you invested in the relationship personally. You keep in touch via Facebook but you also continue to invest face-to-face. I get that social media is convenient and that personal time is precious and painful to lose, but there has to be honesty about what these relationships are – deep or shallow. The Facebook “birthday party” mom definitely is the latter, and the fact that you aren’t close enough to her to even know much about her older child seems to reinforce that. If she is only an acquaintance on Facebook then I don’t quite understand why what she does on her page feels so personal to you. What my friends say and do matter to me greatly; the acquaintances in my life? Not very much. There are far too many of them and they have no bearing on my feelings. And that’s why I have no interest in monitoring them on Facebook or other media.

  • Ergala October 4, 2013, 2:41 pm

    Dee I think you are mistaken if you think we agree. I don’t merely know these people only online. In fact I very rarely ever accept anyone I do not know in person due to the fact I have pictures of my children on there. I have 175 people on my list and every single one of them except for 7 I know in person and for longer than a year. Most are related somehow and the rest are childhood friends. We are all scattered. Of course I haven’t met my friend’s son….she lives in a totally different state. And I don’t recall becoming distraught over what she did on her own page. I posted a question asking if this type of thing is now the norm or not. I don’t understand why you seem to feel the need to judge the validity of my friendships based on what your own are like.

  • dee October 6, 2013, 2:44 am

    Ergala – First of all, how are you not agreeing with me when you say that these people are friends because you have established the relationships in person? That’s exactly what I’m saying. Huh. But I don’t understand how someone is a friend when you don’t even know much, if anything, about the person that is most important in her life (her son). Her son, and your children, would naturally be a constant topic of conversation between you two. Unless you are not having conversations with this person … just checking out Facebook postings and posting replies of your own, then I can understand why you don’t know her very well. But then one would have conversations with friends – in person, on the phone, email, etc., even once in a blue moon, unless these are friends that they are rather permanently separated from (for whatever reason). Then you would hear about her son, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. You can call anyone you want a friend but the difference between friends and acquaintances is a very important distinction that seems to be lost amongst those who depend on social media. Understanding the distinction and the meaning of deeper relationships, that can only be developed with personal time invested one-to-one, is something autistic people often have great difficulty with, but one can see it happening more and more often with people who rely on social media a lot. It’s almost as if people are losing the ability to develop deep relationships. But I do see many people call these types of relationships “friendships” and they are anything but, and they learn this the hard way, and their energy is sucked up with little or no return. In any case, it is perplexing to me why a person would use up their “me” time checking out and being caught up in the Facebook dealings of someone they are not close to, “friend” or not. I get that this woman’s Facebook postings makes for interesting reading on Etiquette Hell but if you aren’t close to her enough to expect an invitation to the birthday party, she is rude to others she isn’t inviting and to those she is – seems to me a classic case of energy invested in a superficial relationship rather than saving that energy for real friends. And that’s your choice but it is absolutely unhealthy to invest that way. As I said before, I don’t have much interest in what my acquaintances do, even when they are really really rude, as they just don’t have much of a place in my life. If it affects you that “birthday mom” is quite rude, either by making you frustrated or by taking up any of your time, well, I can’t agree with you that that drama is productive or even benign. So, I guess on that we do disagree.