GEN­ER­A­TION FLAKE

I can’t make DIN­NER TONIGHT... Let’s RESCHED­ULE... Next Fri­day? NEXT SEPTEM­BER? How about NEVER…

ELLE (UK) - - Contents -

Eva Wise­man ex­plores why bail­ing is the new go­ing out

WE’RE CAUGHT in A CULT of COM­PET­I­TIVE ‘BUSY­NESS’, AC­CEPT­ING IN­VI­TA­TIONS, MAK­ING PLANS AND THEN CAN­CELLING all TOO EAS­ILY. BUT THERE’S SOME­THING TO LEARN FROM LIV­ING in the GOLDEN AGE of BAIL­ING, says EVA WISE­MAN

It was a nor­mal af­ter­noon in June that sud­denly cracked open to re­veal one of the most mag­i­cal gifts. An in­vi­ta­tion to a dis­tant cousin’s wed­ding had been sent to my mum, and the date ar­rived like a clump of wet tis­sue land­ing on the floor. It wasn’t just that I hadn’t seen the in­vi­ta­tion, or writ­ten down the day, it was that I re­ally didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to eat the canapés, I didn’t want to stand in heels, I didn’t want to con­sider the dress, yawn dis­creetly into my hand. And it wasn’t per­sonal, Es­ther, if you’re read­ing this. It was im­per­sonal – it was uni­ver­sal. It was a feel­ing that I and you and ev­ery other per­son who wakes up at six in the morn­ing and has quite a lot of Net­flix to catch up on feels most week­ends – it was the yearn to bail.

So it was June, and my mum, be­ing an an­gel, phoned up the cousin’s dad. Of course I wasn’t go­ing to call – are you mad? It was her fault, she said. She hadn’t passed on the in­vi­ta­tion, and so was very sorry to call so late, the day be­fore, but Eva wouldn’t be able to make it to the wed­ding. There was a pause. Quite a long pause, as she tells it, a pause that crawled down the line and sat sweatily be­side her with a look of dis­gusted fury. They’d al­ready or­gan­ised the cater­ing, he said. Would… Would he like us to re­im­burse them? My mum called me as soon as she hung up. When she told me that they had agreed on a cheque for £3O ‘for the vege­tar­ian op­tion’, I had to sit down for a minute. £3O – so sim­ple. Putting a price on flak­i­ness, it could be the an­swer to all our prob­lems. I had pur­chased the right to for­feit my guilt. I al­lowed my­self a mo­ment of quiet glee, imag­in­ing an ex­tra op­tion that should be at­tached to ev­ery RSVP – yes, no, and ‘with the best will in the world, here’s £3O’.

This is the age of flak­ing. Thanks to tech­nol­ogy that al­lows a fluid flex­i­bil­ity to ar­range­ments, the mod­ern cul­ture of busy­ness, and an in­creas­ing am­bi­gu­ity to our friend­ships (es­pe­cially those born on­line), bail­ing on plans has come to de­fine our gen­er­a­tion. A sur­vey of 2,OOO Bri­tish peo­ple

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