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Invitations and Facebook

April 1st, 2010
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I think I just realized something about facebook invitations: they're not treated the same way as "real" invitations socially. Essentially they function as notifications of events. So if I use facebook to invite someone to a party, that tells them "this party exists", "here's details on when and where it is", and "you would be welcome to attend". Sort of like if they saw a poster for the party. It's very different from me sending them an email that says "hey; I'm having a party on 2/3; can you make it?". The email would require a response and would probably not be ignored. A response of "maybe" would have to be explained with an excuse ("my boss might make me work late, so I might not be able to come") and would be much harder socially than saying "maybe" to a facebook invite.

Backing out is also different. If I tell john that I'll be at his party and then realize there's something I'd rather do instead, I wouldn't just say "actually, john, I can't come". With facebook events, though, the attendence status of each guest is under their control, and it's quite common for people to silently move between yes/no/maybe.

Some of this is the difference between mass and personal communication. Some of this is that facebook events are often used for things like dances where there wouldn't normally be a guest list. But I definitely need to keep this in mind when organizing parties: if I want people to come, I should talk to them.

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