Half of Life is Showing Up: Flakiness and Relationships in Los Angeles

As a parent, I recognize that these conversations are on my radar – but more and more I hear people pulling at their hair and saying “kids these days are so entitled”, “what happened to manners?”, “kids can’t pay attention to anything” etc. etc.

We reap what we sow.

I live in Los Angeles, California. I adore this city – it is naturally beautiful, great climate, great culture. However, it is also the most flaky place I have ever been. People think nothing of not showing up to events, they rarely RSVP, when they do it is at the 11th hour, if at all. People won’t even make plans in this damn town – they try to play it cool with mindless utterances like …..“yeah – let’s make it a game day decision”

Bullshit. You know what the implicit communication is here?

I am waiting for something better to come along.

There is always a “better” option lurking around the next corner in this vapid little world. You don’t want to lock yourself in, lest better shows up. Better can be another person, a better party, staying home and watching TV it’s different for different people. Then, when you realize that “better” ain’t coming around – you go with your “fallback” plan of B list plans with “regular” friends. This mentality wreaks havoc on friendships, families, relationships and human decency.

Thus, in this town, someone who follows through, shows up on time, and is steadfast is like GOLD.

What is more troubling is the message this sends children. Let me relate to you a story I recently heard. Child is invited to little girl’s birthday party. Child RSVPs yes, she would be happy to come to the party. Little girl is happy child will come to her party. 4 hours before the party a better option presents itself. Child’s mother contacts birthday girl’s mother and cancels her child’s attendance, and even has the audacity to tell her the better thing that comes up. Little birthday girl is devastated.

What message did that child just got from her mother? Simple – you do not have to honor your commitments and that it is fine to miss a meaningful event in a friend’s life to forward your own needs. What kinds of choices will this child make in her own future? Well, I am guessing that RSVPing will not be her strong suit. And what of the birthday girl – what did she learn? That the world is cruel, that she is eminently replaceable by the “next best thing”, that a friend’s word doesn’t mean much. Ethical culture has gone out the window. And there will be a price to pay – the world is about to be overtaken by a tribe of narcissists.

I was incensed when I heard this story and the mother in question is a card carrying narcissist so the entire tale did not surprise me. Every time a person goes out there and thinks there may be something “better” lurking – it is reflective of an emptiness and sleazy opportunism within him or her. We are creating a generation of empty kids by teaching them that our word means nothing, that we can disappoint people we care about for a flashier event, that commitment is crap. In the years to come, the friendship and a shared history of birthday parties, playground games, and just being together will yield far more fruit than one exciting event. But in this world – who cares about growing an apple tree when we can get an apple cheap?

How can we create solid kids in this kind of culture? How do we get our friends to “man-up” and honor their commitments? If you flake – what are your reasons? Has the better thing ever really shown up?

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This entry was posted on Sunday, October 17th, 2010 at 12:04 pm and is filed under Parenting, Relationships and Sex. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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