Cancelling with a few clicks: how technology is driving the rise of bail culture
Published Tuesday, October 29, 2019 9:04AM CST
A Calgary couple has spoken out online against what some say may be a side-effect to an increasingly connected culture -- people backing out of plans at the last minute, bailing on others in their social circle.
While some believe the behaviour is part of an accepted cultural shift, others are more resistant.
Kayla Rutgers recently experienced it firsthand: after planning to entertain friends in her home, two out of three of them cancelled shortly before they were supposed to arrive.
"I was disappointed,” said Rutgers. “I put a lot of time and effort and it kind of fell through.”
The incident angered Rutgers's husband, who took out his anger online in a tweet saying “bail culture” is the worst part of his generation.
Ben got a lot of support for his tweet -- more than 17,000 likes.
"I think it’s really causing people to miss out socializing with friends and having experiences,” he said.
How technology plays a role
An academic who studies communication said having a mobile device makes it easy to accept and back out of invitations.
Matthew Flisfeder, associate professor of rhetoric and communications at the University of Winnipeg, said people are multi-tasking, meaning invites are juggled along with emails and texts.
That’s coupled with busy lives, filled with lots of work and lots of stressors.
"And often we feel at the last minute that we can't fulfill the obligations to the invitations we've made, so it's very easy for us to pull out the phone and say, ‘Sorry, can't make it.’”
Flisfeder asked his students and found many say it’s a natural part of life these days –- all parties bail sometimes, and there are almost no hard feelings.
A sociologist said people will also bail if something better comes up -- perhaps taking a last minute concert invite –- because mobile devices make it easy to change plans, just by sending a message.
But there is a generational divide with how that might be received.
"We can also say that the digital immigrants are those individuals that are more likely to be more offended than the digital natives,” said Christopher Schneider, associate professor of sociology, Brandon University, referring to those who were raised before the digital age and had to migrate to digital life versus those who grew up using the internet and digital technology.
The Rutgers said bail culture has been getting worse and worse.
“I think it’s just become a tolerated norm in our like under 40 culture. I know my husband experiences it frequently. My friends experience it frequently,” Kayla said.
Her husband’s tweet also received replies from others who related to the frustration, saying they don’t host events because of the risk.
While Flisfeder said his students told him they are spending more time alone, interacting with others by text, he wonders if that isn’t representative of a new way of thinking about what it means to be social.
He also says along with technology -- busy lives are also driving the shift and people are using their devices to say they need down time.
-Edited by CTV's Megan Benedictson