Every day across this land (and presumably across lands across the world), butt-hurt friends and associates get into their feelings about an alleged slight. You’ve been there. I’ve been there. We all scream for ice cream.
You’re doing what we all do during the course of the day, skimming your Facebook timeline or perusing Instagram for the latest
seminude IG model pics natural-hair products and protective styles, and you see pictures from some party that include a significant number of people you refer to as friends. You’ve been in their homes, you’ve drunk their wine. But somehow you missed whatever grand gathering occurred where body shots and champagne bubble baths were being had in a house that you’ve been in multiple times.
You proceed to do what any level-headed individual does: You check your spam folder for missed emails and text messages to see if you somehow just missed the invite for said gathering. Then you do the next thing: passive-aggressively text somebody who was at the party smiling like Jesse Williams just got elected president and say, “That party looked crazy!” To which that person will text back: “Yeah, it was nuts. U shld hv bn thr. Prty of the 4ever.” They’re a millennial.
And you’ll shoot back, “I didn’t know about it,” which will be met either by silence or “OK.”
Welcome to heartbreak.
Eventually you’ll talk to the party organizer, who will tell you, “Well, we know you have 17 children and it was last minute, so we knew you weren’t going to be able to make it. It wasn’t an intentional disrespect thing. My bad. I’ll make sure to let you know next time. It really was last minute, though. We didn’t think the little-person stripper—that’s what you call them nowadays, right?—was going to be able to get there in time. But, I mean, I just figured you couldn’t come because, you know, you never can.”
“But I still want to be invited. Maybe I could have come. I mean, no, I haven’t hung out with you all in what amounts to eight years now. And no, the last 14 events I’ve outright just ignored the evites, but I still like being invited as part of the group. Maybe I will be able to come to one of them.”
“Girl, I guess. My bad. It was a crazy night. Did I tell you Idris Elba came through with a jock sock on? And nothing else? I don’t even know what he was thinking. But it won’t happen again.”
(Stays in feelings.)
End of scene.
The question here is this: If you know somebody is just outright not going to be able to make it to something you’re doing for any number of reasons, one of which is because that person never does, are you required to invite him or her anyway?
Spoiler alert: No. You’re not. It’s nice if you do. People gon’ people, and everybody likes to feel included. But it is a lot of work to concern yourself with other people’s feelings for appearance’ sake just so they feel better about themselves. and people who know they weren’t going to be able to attend anyway need to get over themselves.
With that being said, human emotions are a complicated beast. And it really doesn’t take much to send a text to one more person. It’s not like anybody’s paying by text anymore, right? Bueller? And what’s an extra email on the Evite? What with auto-fill, it takes all of, what, half a second? It really doesn’t cost you anything to go the extra Devon Miles to include people who—despite life choices and circumstances, none of which have to be considered negative—are not likely to make it. Ever.
So why are people left out so much?
As somebody it happens to and as somebody who has done it to others, I can tell you why: Just as much as you hate not being invited to s—t, inviters hate always being told you can’t make it for this reason or that reason. After a while it just seems easier not to invite somebody who keeps saying no.
It’s psychological. People like to hear “yes.” It makes them feel better. When you’re extended an invite, especially a personal one, people feel better when you can, you know, attend. With each no, I think you (rightly) reduce the likelihood of being invited to additional events, especially after, say, three or four “noes” in a row.
On the flip side, the constant “no” people will view it from a different lens. They are going to invite their friends to all the things they do. Always. Of course, it’s easier to do when you have two or three things per year and that’s the time when you actually do want to see your friends. They feel like they’re always sending invites and the courtesy should be extended. Even if it’s always every four months.
Of course, all of this is fairly normal. As you get older and progress through the various stages of life, changes occur that either hinder or advance your ability to do whatever it is you want. Some changes are kids. Others are job promotions that take you from mopping floors to washing lettuce, eventually to fries, then the grill and, in a year or two, assistant manager, where the big bucks start to roll in so you can take trips and buy expensive cars and post status messages that say s—t like, “I’ll never stop grinding.”
The folks with kids can’t go everywhere the folks without kids can on a whim. Those last-minute deals to Whereeverthehellsville still look as attractive, but they’re less actionable when you bring more people into your personal fold. The single friends? They’re travel-noiring and taking those amazingly odd Zen-like pictures in deep poses that make you wonder who took the picture.
Seriously, there are a lot of staged pictures happening. Like, how are you taking a picture of yourself sleeping? Talking about “Don’t sleep on me.” Stop it.
The pictures of people doing Zen-like poses on rocks amaze me the most.
But I digress.
Point is, I know most of us like to get invites to things we’ll never go to in order to make ourselves feel like we’re part of someone’s life. But the truth is, there’s another person on the end of that “no” you keep tossing around, and any human is going to stop asking at some point because life happens, and while we don’t love how it happens at times, we all understand. It’s the most personal nonpersonal thing ever.
But nobody owes you an invite. Unless you owe that person a “yes” after a certain percentage of the asks.
Anything less is uncivilized.
Panama Jackson is the co-founder and senior editor of VerySmartBrothas.com. He lives in Washington, D.C., and believes the children are our future.