A Meerkat Rants: This Is No Way To Throw A Party.

On the face of it, setting up a Facebook event is brilliant.  You do minimal work – just enter the info and maybe a photo or two, put together a guest list – and hit go.  Facebook – ideally, in a perfect world – sends notification out to everyone on your list, and the responses roll in.  And then, closer to the date, it reminds people who were interested, so they don’t miss it.

Genius, right?

Except for two things.

1.  F*cking Facebook

2.  F*cking people.

The rant about Facebook is one y’all could probably do in your sleep: they throttle signal unless you pay for something, and even when you pay, the distribution rate sucks like a NASA test wind tunnel.  And half the time they’ve done a massive and unwanted re-sort of their site, so nobody can find anything when they need it, anyway.  Fuck Facebook and all their technicians.

(Can I get an amen?)

But hey, the people you do get through to, they will know about the event, and they can say if they’re interested, or RSVP yes or no, so you’ve got a good idea of how many people will show up, right?  It’s like eVite, except nobody has to actually check their email or go to another site!

Except people are fucking people, and probably half of the people who get your invite won’t ever click on it, and the half who do and actually do hit “interested” are using it as a “like” button rather than actual plans to attend.

Don’t fucking do that, please.  If you want to say “good luck,” post “good luck.”   Don’t say you’re interested when you’re pretty damn sure you aren’t.

Here’s a scenario:  Writer Jones has got a new book coming out.  They’ve set up a reading.  They’ve got a Facebook page set up so people can know all the details, maybe see who else is coming, make plans to carpool, have dinner beforehand….  And two days beforehand, Writer Jones see that they’ve got, oh, twenty people have said they’re interested, and another ten say they are planning to attend.  It’s safe, in a normal world, to assume that of the twenty, maybe half will actually show up, and 80% of the yes RSVPs will attend.

On Facebook?  Don’t assume anyone “interested” is actually planning on being there.  And half the people who said yes will change their response the day-of.

So there Writer Jones is, waiting for people who aren’t ever going to show up.

I’ve seen this happen for readings (mine, and others), and events I’ve set up for the winery I work for, and even for friends’ birthday parties.  Events where having even a rough guesstimate of headcount is important.  I have no fucking clue what makes people do this – and why it seems to be so Facebook-specific (eVites and actual email invites seem to have a more accurate rate of response). Anywhere else, you’ve committed, barring Unforeseen Events and Acts of Gods.   But not on Facebook.  Facebook makes assholes of us all.



About Laura Anne Gilman

Laura Anne is a recovering editor-turned-novelist, with an Endeavor Award, a Nebula nomination, another Endeavor award nomination and a Washington State Book Award nomination under her belt. Her most recent series is the award-winning "Devil's West" trilogy, starting with SILVER ON THE ROAD, and her same-universe story collection, WEST WINDS' FOOL, AND OTHER STORIES OF THE DEVIL'S WEST. The novella GABRIEL'S ROAD was published by Book View Cafe on April 30th, 2019. Her Patreon, featuring original fiction, writing advice, and original Rants, is at https://www.patreon.com/LAGilman Learn more at www.lauraannegilman.net, where you can sign up for her quarterly newsletter.


A Meerkat Rants: This Is No Way To Throw A Party. — 6 Comments

  1. I think some people believe that saying they’re “interested” means that they support the idea of going. And some people I know just check off everything that looks mildly interesting, even if, in the event, they decide to stay home and reorganize their lint collections.

    The weirdness around Humans and RSVPs baffles and annoys me. And it’s not just Facebook. I could tell you stories from pre-Facebook days. But I won’t, because you’re right. Facebook and humans. Feh.

  2. So, people, why do you all keep wasting your time and giving yourself, your information and the information of every single person you know and don’t even know to FB to sell to the world, including to all those who wish you and your nation ill will?
    Signed, Lifetime fb refusnik

    • I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, I post on Facebook because many of my readers are there, and it is an effective marketing tool. Like many tools, it can cut you if you don’t use it properly, but not using them has a cost, too.

      (I am also careful about what information goes out – my entire online life is carefully curated, not just Fb. )

  3. Well, they don’t call it “Fakebook” for nothing. It allows people to don the veneer of engagement with and caring about others without actually having to engage with and care about others in real time:

    “Look at me—I *liked* someone’s warm-and-fuzzy meme to show how supportive I am, and then *liked* someone else’s diametrically-opposed-but equally-warm-and-fuzzy meme the next post down. Now I can go and snuggle up in my corner and believe I have actually accomplished something meaningful in my life and the world, knowing that I have so many friends who *like* me, even if they wouldn’t actually recognise me if they tripped over me in the street.”

    I agree, though, It is very sad that what should be a great tool of communication (particularly for independent professionals who have comparatively few avenues by which to gain exposure) has devolved into such a cesspool of vitriol and deceit and evasion. That’s human beings for you. I’m not sure Facebook actually makes assholes of us all—it just exposes in neon luminosity what was already there, lurking under the façade.

  4. I click “interested” if I want to be reminded an event exists in case I want to go to it. But unless I click “going,” don’t rely on me to show up. I treat Facebook posts about events like announcements, not like invitations. It never occurred to me that they were intended to be treated like official invitations, especially since I might or might not even see ones that interest me.

    I sympathize with the planning problem, though. And it happens even if you send direct invitations and get some RSVPs.

    • That’s exactly how I use “interested” too, I want the event on my Facebook calendar but have no solid plans. I think the calendar is what makes Facebook different from other mediums, people use it to plan options. But I will mark “going” if my plans are solid. There has to be a major adjustment for event planners, don’t count on half, probably don’t even count on a quarter attending from Facebook “interested”.

      Now if it’s a personal invite only sent to the person’s friends then I tend to expect “interested” is a little more serious interest. But not public events.