In modern society, we tend to buy products such as cars that are reliable. That’s because we feel that it’s important not to be stranded or let down. Statistics prove that cars are getting more reliable every year, so we generally have little to worry about when it comes to our personal transportation. People today are a different story. Those in professional jobs at work tend to be reliable because their job and income are at stake. They are usually held accountable. But with personal relationships and leisure activities, I’m noticing that people are becoming less reliable and it irks me to no end. I always wonder why it is so hard for some people to commit to doing something and then actually do it. For a gathering or activity, people like to say “maybe I’ll show up,” or “I’ll try to make it.” Why? Is it that hard to decide what you’re going to do on a Thursday evening or a Saturday night? Are there really that many unexpected emergencies you foresee happening that you can’t say with 99.9% certainty that you’ll do something? Unless you have children or an elderly person to take care of or a serious illness, very few excuses are good reasons not to show up. (On the other hand, people can use kids or significant others for fake excuses to not go somewhere.) A lot of this ambivalence comes from people waiting for a better option. If that better option comes up, they won’t attend the event to which they said they might come. Then I wonder how often a better option actually pops up.
Little in one’s life is going to change if you show up at your friend’s party. It’s not like you’re choosing a job or a spouse. It’s just three hours of your time and you might actually have fun, learn something, or meet somebody interesting. Most importantly, if it’s a friend, you can bond with that person. Even with acquaintances, showing up when you say you will goes miles in developing friendships or networks. In my experience, “Maybe means a 98% chance of no”. What perpetually unreliable people do is diminish friendships. If you commit to doing something with a friend, doing it is part of your duties as a good friend. Not doing it means you value other things over your friendship. There’s another element to this. Events take planning and no-shows can really have an effect on the host’s reputation and budget. If it’s an event that unreliable people don’t show up for, then the people planning it can look like idiots in front of important people that were asked to attend. They may also spend too much on the event for the anticipated larger attendance.
I don’t know if unreliability in people is increasing but it sure feels that way. It might be a generational thing or a geographic thing, but the world would be a better place if it stopped. Technology hasn’t helped. Mobile phones, and websites like Facebook or Meetup are enablers to people being "Maybe’ers." When there’s an event where 40 people say yes, 80 say maybe and 15 show up, something’s wrong and they’re being inconsiderate. I don’t mean to say that it’s never OK to say “maybe” as your showing up may be dependent on something that you know about in advance which may be out of your control. I also realize that unexpected legitimate excuses can come up at the last second, but we should start eliminating maybes and converting them to no’s and definite yeses. Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening, not even maybe. Well, at least we can rely on our cars.