The era of insta-communication via text has had an unfortunate consequence, writes David Brooks in the New York Times. "It's clear we're living in a golden age of bailing." By that he means it's way too easy these days for people to make a commitment, then bow out at the last second with a text offering some kind of excuse. He admits to the etiquette offense himself and notes that it's not always bad (it's sometimes a relief for the bailee) but thinks the trend has gone too far. It might be time for "social norms" to kick in with consequences for bailers that would make them think twice. Technology is all about making things easy, but friendship should probably be a little difficult sometimes.
"Bailing is one of the defining acts of the current moment because it stands at the nexus of so many larger trends: the ambiguity of modern social relationships, the fraying of commitments, what my friend Hayley Darden calls the ethic of flexibility ushered in by smartphone apps—not to mention the decline of civilization, the collapse of morality and the ruination of all we hold dear," writes Brooks. In the column, he suggests a three-step formula to gauge offenses: Was the excuse legit, was it presented "well" (no whining about your busy life), and was the impact on the other person fully considered? Click for his full column. (Read more etiquette stories.)