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e-vite e-tiquette

This holiday season I have received “e-vites” or e-mail invitations to parties at people’s homes that ask me to respond online. These responses are then tallied and the roster of those who have accepted and those who have declined is posted online for all to see, along with any personal messages from the guests; as in “Mary ACCEPTED! :-) -- ‘looking forward to it!’ “David DECLINED :-( -- ‘So sorry; having a colonoscopy that day.’”

I have been in a state of paralysis over these invitations. I am usually very conscientious about responding to invitations, but I do not like to have the general public updated about when I will not be home, or whose parties I am attending (or not). And if you don’t respond to the evite, you are then hounded with daily reminders that you have been remiss. I tried calling with my responses, but was told by two hosts, “Okay, but could you respond to the e-vite, the way I asked you to?” I appreciate being invited to parties and I don’t wish to be rude, but I think these evites are intrusive.

Do you have any recommendations on how to handle this?

—So Many Parties, So Little Time (Online)

Dining Out says: Welcome to 2010…and wave good-bye to formalities! Have you noticed how your fellow Homo sapiens function lately? They’re too busy text-messaging and drinking coffee behind their steering wheels to call or hand-write invitations. Unless you’re being invited to a wedding or bar mitzvah, don’t expect to find a calligraphied invitation in your US Post box. It may bother you that your Gmail box is filled with e-vites, but think about it from a green standpoint. You’re saving trees (and saving money on postage).

The Practical Cogitator says: I’m with you, pal. I hate the e-vite. Hate it, hate it, HATE IT! But unless you have a magic time machine that we can both climb into and zip waaaay back into the past, where handwritten notes were delivered, and messengers hired and set about the kingdom, we are out of luck.

So, in response to your paranoid concern about people knowing when you may or may not be home due to your plethora of e-vite responses…may I suggest, click ‘maybe’.

The Gay Perpective says: The electronic invitation does not seem to be the problem, so much as the public roster of responses. Your telephone call was an acceptable alternative, and an e-mail response would be too. The insistence that you answer online could reasonably met with, “No, I’m sorry. I prefer not to have my plans posted online.” I expect that e-vites are here to stay, but they need to evolve into a format that is more considerate of the dignity and privacy of those who are invited. It would be easy to say “Welcome to the 21st century,” but good manners never go out of fashion. Any comments about saving trees would be disingenuous, because electronic communication has inspired a proliferation of printed paper copies (and maps) anyway. The paperless office or household is a myth, and frankly, while the e-vite is certainly convenient for the hosts, the paper invitation more gracious toward the guests. To reduce your carbon footprint, you can recycle the invitation and walk to the party.

Ruthless says: You are too old to go to parties anymore, so you may as well announce it to the world. Go ahead and DECLINE.

Added benefit: That “general public” that’s so interested in your whereabouts will think that you are always home. I assume this is desirable to you in order to reduce the risk of robbery…?

Yes, you are too old.

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