23 April 2019 - Are we losing the ability to commit?

Once upon a time, many decades ago, before the internet and mobile phones were created, we lived simpler times. We had to plan and be organised. We also had to stick with the plan too as making changes were much harder to do. 

For example, I would leave the cinema, walk to a phone box which had a working phone in it. I would insert a 2 pence piece (yes, really) and manually dial a number. The call would engage and start to ring. I would let it ring 3 times and then hang up. My 2 pence coin was returned to me. This was the signal for my dad to get into the car and drive to a predefined location to pick my friends and me up and take us home. 

I know that there is a generation who will not understand this concept. They have been born into a more technological society where we have solutions at our fingertips. 
The way they organise themselves and communicate are very different. Plans are more fluid. 

For those of us also old enough to remember, in the UK, once upon a time we had 3 TV channels to choose our entertainment from and their schedules would stop at the end of the evening for us to go to bed. Now we have almost an infinite selection of channels at our fingertips, catchup TV and subscriptions to further increase our choice. We spend so much time flicking through the options that its any wonder we actually get on with the task of watching any programme. 

If you look at the way we now date, we turn to the internet to flick through a myriad of faces, swiping right if we like the look of them, (so I'm told). We know nothing about them and yet we have already made an instant decision on whether we like them. If we do get a match we then start a compatibility questionnaire with the other person online, with more possibilities of discounting them before we consider meeting them. 

In the good old days before the internet we met people the old fashioned way, often getting drunk in a bar and trying your best chat up line. If the other person laughed then this was a good start. You had started to gain some rapport with your latest challenge and then would proceed to figure out everything else after that. Simple times. 

I now see this type of 'flicking' behaviour when it comes to people's social lives too. It would seem that people do not like to commit to an event until the last moment. It’s as if they accept every invite available and then on the night pick their favourite choice or wait until they see what their friends are doing and join in. Or not. So many also accept invites but then end up going nowhere on the night, preferring to stay home. Netflix and chill. 

For an event organiser like myself, trying to arrange one has now become a logistical nightmare. Let me explain further. For my group's events we are lucky that generally we can find sponsors and locations to host the nights we put on. But with that comes venue rules that you must comply with, such as health and safety and security measures. 

I find that we have to over subscribe on invitations out to your audience, thus giving your location contact a heart attack on the prospect of going over fire limit regulations. The reality we are all seeing is that inevitably a high percentage won’t turn up on the night and you will sit comfortably within the numbers. I then have to make a measured guess on catering so I can cover the final headcount, trying not to over order on items, or under supply. I generally have to make an educated guess, based on previous turnout on how many will actually come. 

And then there is the evening of the event itself. I'm seeing a real shift here in people's behaviour. Those who are on the attendee list may show up. This is a win. (I'd like to think for all parties as members do take great benefit from attending). There will be some attendees who will need to cry off. I get it, life throws a curve ball and plans must change last minute. These people will send apologies. Others will just not turn up, no communication given. Ideally, if you are an attendee and you know in advance that you can't make it then I'd really like to know as we can make adjustments. 

You see, for these groups, we have a waitlist. A keen set of members who'd like to come along but weren't so hot on getting onto the list in time. If there is a chance to promote these people onto the attendee list before it is given to security then we may have just made one person's day. But, this only works if we have a few days prior knowledge of changes. We really can't make a change on the day. Its just not fair to any party. 

And then there is one last group of people, the chancers. These people may have been on the waiting list or not on any list and just turn up to the venue with hope that they can get in. This is really tough as it puts pressure on building security and the hosts and makes the event organisers (us) look unprofessional with no control over our membership. It also mocks the members who signed up in good faith to attend or those on the waitlist, patiently waiting to see if they can get in. 

So, what I'm saying is this:
If you sign up, please show up.
If you can't show up then either un-RSVP or tell us asap so we can give your spot to someone else on the waitlist. Don't wait for the day to do this. It will be too late. 
If you're on the waitlist or not signed up then please don't turn up on the night and expect to be let in. Thats just not playing fair to anyone. 

Many people like me are group leaders. We arrange events in our community to bring people together, network, learn from each other and have fun. These groups work because they are in-person meetings. Its the power we gain from each other what makes these events special. We'd love you to sign up and show up again and again, so please help every group leader to keep their group special. 


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