Select Page

So there’s this thing that everyone else seems to think is okay, which makes me feel like I’m a bitch because it bugs me, but I suspect that it actually bugs other people, we’ve just gotten so used to it that we don’t think to complain.

When I first moved to LA, someone told me about the RSVP problem. LA people hate to RSVP, so don’t even ask for it, I was told. LA people love to play it by ear, either because of a fear of commitment, or a concern that something better might come along. In the seven years I have lived in LA, I have, indeed, discovered this to be true. For everything from a mundane coffee date to a proper sit-down dinner, getting an RSVP is like pulling teeth.

Recently, I had a plus one to an exclusive event. The only reason I mention this because if you weren’t very interested in spending time with me, the carrot might have been the event, itself. But no one wanted to commit. Five people canceled or simply didn’t get back to me, since we were “playing it by ear,” and playing it by ear usually means a no without actually having to say no. A no that you can retract if you do decide, in fact, that you want to leave the house.

I’m not sure what the root is of this lack of accountability. Part of it has to do with our love affair with texting, and the ease of not having to be held responsible, not having to confront the person with whom we are talking. After all, texting makes everything easy, from courting to canceling to breaking up.

But I don’t think it’s just that. And I’m also not sure it’s just an LA problem, since I have experienced this with people from other places visiting LA.

I’m more inclined to think it’s a generational problem. That we have grown generally indifferent to plans and obligations. That we have grown accustomed to superficiality and evasiveness and fake friendships that thrive in cyberspace but crumble in real life. That we prefer, in our culture of immediate gratification, to indulge in the moment rather than plan ahead. To indulge ourselves, and the whims of the present, rather than hold ourselves accountable. That we are so overwhelmed with stimulus and opportunity that we can no longer focus on just one thing. We are a culture stricken with attention deficit disorder. We are a culture that tolerates and even revels in mediocrity, that does not demand accountability or, for that matter, punctuality. (I have students who are consistently over an hour late to class.) Because punctuality means holding yourself accountable.

But I could be wrong. What do you think?