Social Psych 501: Snowflakes and “Socialflakes”

***Disclaimer: As always, please don’t think I think myself above this or not guilty of some of these things. I’m just as imperfect as the next person. However, if you get offended by my opinion…well….

There was a time and place in my life where I got caught up in the phenomenon of “The Sims” computer game. Hey, when you grow up in a small town and you’re the chubby dorky Mormon kid that people teased and bullied, you get creative. Embarrassing confession aside, I’ve learned that there are a lot of truths about human interactions found in the game. Part of playing the game is making friends. You can do this in numerous ways, though the developers have yet to incorporate texting or tweeting. I found one of the most successful ways was using the phone: after you chatted a person up for a while, you could select the “Invite Out” or “Invite Over” option, as face to face interaction was the quickest way to make friends. Every now and then, a bubble would pop up on-screen soon after your acquaintance/friend would agree to go out or come over: “Actually, something came up and I can’t make it, sorry!” My teenage mind was still acquiring higher level thinking skills and never really thought much more than, “Wtf? That’s weird.”

Now, as a 20-something woman well versed in the language of social society, I am well acquainted with what I didn’t recognize at the time as “flaking”, something I consider very high up in the realm of social sins. While snowflakes are cooling on your skin, make you giggle when they fall on your lashes and nose, and are uniquely different with their own individual patterns, “socialflakes” are none of the above. They follow the same patterns, often use the same lies/excuses, and don’t make you giggle. In fact, the only similarity snowflakes and socialflakes may have is that they can be beautiful – which is why socialflakes can get away with flaking at times. It’s much more difficult to stay mad at beautiful people, especially if you like them a lot.  The only other similarity I can think of between these type types of flakes is that there seems to be an abundance of them in this world. This blog won’t cover all of the complexities of socialflakes, as it literally could be a class that could take an entire semester and be worth 3.0 credits, but I hope it will be enlightening nonetheless. This entire blog post could be applied to dating, but for the purposes of this post, I’m speaking to society as a whole.

Jack Johnson phrased it best in his song “Flake”, which I have come to appreciate and say “Amen!” to more and more often as of late:

It seems to me that maybe,
It pretty much always means no
And often times we’re lazy
It seems to stand in my way
Cause no one no not no one
Likes to be let down

Amen Jack, amen! In order to better analyze socialflakes, we’re going to break down this chorus line by line and apply them to our lovely socialflakes.

1. “No one likes to be let down.” If you like being let down then you may want to skip to #2, but I think it’s pretty safe to argue that this is a truth, especially in social situations. Sometimes a person has put a lot of time and effort into a particular event or activity based on the amount of people who have said they were coming, or based on how they feel about the person. The person may have spent a whole lot of time, money, or thought into the situation, and they may have even put their reputation, job, or heart on the line if you apply it to dating/marriage. Whether it be a movie, dinner, cup of coffee, or a big party, being let down hurts. Have a heart; don’t do it.

2. “And often times we’re lazy”. What is even more psychologically interesting is WHY people let other people down. Jack highlights one reason for us. Sometimes when I ask people why they didn’t come, or aren’t coming, based on what point I confront them about it, I’ll hear “I just didn’t feel like it,” or “I was too tired” or “I was being lazy that night.” Hmm. All of those are excuses, and none of them are really good things if you think about it.

He goes on to say, “It seems to stand in my way”. It’s so true! I was having a conversation with a friend of mine over lunch about this very thing. We were trying to figure out what we could do to get more singles in the Las Vegas valley out to events and aware of more events. It’s difficult to find out what motivates people because it is often very different for each individual. This, however, is an ENTIRE other post that you’ll see on here soon :). In the meantime,  here are some socially acceptable excuses for flaking. I’m interested in adding more to this list based on comments people add:

a. A REAL emergency. Having to wash your hair or your car is not an emergency, unless a bird pooped in it. Even then, you should still show up after washing. Emergencies like your house catching on fire, finding out a friend/family member is in the hospital, and other extremes do not count as flaking. Totally understandable.

b. Death of a family member.

c. Car accidents/car break downs

d. Work – and I mean like REAL work, like you got called in and HAVE to go or you’re gonna get fired, written up, etc. Not “Well I really SHOULD work on this project” or blah blah blah. Homework is not an acceptable flaking excuse, especially if they let you know about the event and invited you ahead of time. If it was last-minute, acceptable flaking.)

e. You’re not about that other thing you had to do.

f. You are legitimately ill. No one wants to see you puke or pass out.

g. If you are certain there are creepers, stalkers, or ex’s who will be there that will make things uncomfortable for many or result in confrontation.

2. “It seems to me that maybe pretty much always means no.” No one likes hearing maybe, especially because it’s usually an answer given for something that we want. The one time I’ve remotely liked something with maybe in it is in the movie “Definitely, Maybe”, and that’s because that hottie Ryan Reynolds is in it. It’s called an oxymoron for a reason. Socialflakes like to capitalize on lack of commitment and feel no shame in it, and are often those people who click “Maybe” on your Facebook event.  There are different types of “maybe’s”:

a. Maybe’s that depend on work, or your car being done in time, or if you finish with previous legit commitments in time.

b. Maybe’s that depend on who’s inviting them. This is often attached to the question “Is he/she hot?” and if you’re not on their social level, you might not make the cut.

c. Maybe if it doesn’t work out tonight this other guy/girl I’m interested in

d. Maybe if I have nothing else better to do because nothing else better comes along.

e. Maybe, if my friends or a person I’m interested in goes.

f. “Call me, maybe”. Not only is the song and singer annoying, it suggests insecurities. No bueno.

And so on, and so forth. Now let’s move on to another aspect of Socialflakes. Commitment, or fear of it, is just one aspect; another closely associated issue is priorities. Jack enlightens us here as well:

And I know that when she said she’s gonna try
Well it might not work because of other ties and
I know she usually has some other ties
And I wouldn’t want to break ’em, nah, I wouldn’t want to break ’em
Maybe she’ll help me to untie this but
Until then well, I’m gonna have to lie too

Socialflakes enjoy being vague or not being forthcoming as to why they can’t come, or just ignore texts/communications. It’s a form of lying because they’re avoiding the truth. Socialflakes often lie to people in order to avoid hurting feelings. Don’t. You’ll hurt them worse in the long run than if you’d just be upfront with them.

Also, if the person who invited you somewhere or to something, if they’re really important to you, you’ll make it a priority to go. You’ll put aside other things and make it a point to go. By going you’re saying to them, “You’re important to me and my time is well spent being around you.” This is nice and good for all levels of relationships. If you and that person are in a good place, they will (or should) understand if you had a really good reason for not showing up.

After a recent event failure of mine, I had a conversation with the whopping two friends that actually didn’t flake out of the many who had said they were coming. I found a guy friend of mine share the same policy. “Three strikes, then you’re out!” If you are invited to an event/activity AND CONFIRM YOU ARE COMING, and then proceed to flake for a total of three times, you shouldn’t be surprised when you’re not invited anymore. This does not include emergencies, and it does not include if you never confirmed you were going because you had a legitimate reason, like something else going on. (See #3). This is also a good rule for dating someone. Call me a social snob all you like, relationships and jobs don’t run that way, and neither should social society. We all need people we can rely on and call dependable; I don’t think anyone consciously or purposely picks people they know are shady, flakey, irresponsible, or not dependable. There are reasons for that. Someday’s you just have a really really bad day and want to be alone; I know I have days like that. Everyone does. It’s understandable. But if it’s more than 3 times, than there’s another real issue or you may want to consider seeing someone about that…

So, if you are a socialflake, or are finding your sweater shoulders covered in socialflakes, get some HeadAndShoulders or TeaTree on those mothers and let it melt off of you like snowflakes. No one likes THOSE kind of flakes. All of society will thank you.




2 thoughts on “Social Psych 501: Snowflakes and “Socialflakes”

  1. I love you, and I love this! I’ve dealt with my share of socialflakes (and hate to admit I have been one on occasion…) enough to be sick of it, and have distanced myself from certain people because of it. I like the ‘three strikes, you’re out’ rule… my problem is that I legitimately miss some of these people, but is my relationship (or lack of?) with this person worth the feelings of inadequacy I get when I get flaked on? Nope.

    Also, lots people loved you in high school! (Me included)

    AND… Thanks – now I have a warped remix version of ‘Call me maybe’ and ‘Flake’ running through my head…

    • Well thank you Amanda, thanks to you and some other kind people, I took out “everyone”, and changed hated. There were a handful of nice people like you and I haven’t forgotten it 🙂 As for the missing people thing, I was JUST having a conversation about that with a friend about that too the other day, and it’s been added to long list of things I’m going to blog about. Maybe we can all figure it out together!

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