Posted by: mattamorphosis | January 31, 2012

Why Flakiness Makes Us Drink the Haterade

My friend Lindsay runs the blog Meccanized and recently posted a great entry on why flakes give her a rage stroke. Now, I am not easily enraged, but I do find interpersonal flakiness to be quite obnoxious. In part, I am sure, it is because I can see that I have become more flaky than I’d like to admit in recent years. To paraphrase T. S. Eliot and allude to the popular addiction treatment program slogan, let’s hope that “acceptance is the first step to recovery.”


Flakiness. Aloofness. Lack of consideration.  Combine them and what do you have? A recipe that is almost guaranteed to give me a rage stroke.

I know people are busy. I know things come up. I know the entire world doesn’t revolve around me and my plans. But I firmly believe there is a right way to flake out on someone – infrequently, proactively, with enough advance warning that the flake victim can salvage the time, and ideally through a phone call that provides a proper degree of contrition. Obviously, these can’t always be fully attained, but short of being trapped under some heavy, immovable object, it’s not that hard to come pretty close.

Which is why it is so irritating and disrespectful when people flake incorrectly.

A few days ago, I was quietly and respectfully (i.e. loudly and rantily) speaking to someone about this social phenomenon.  Somehow the discussion evolved into a contest about who had experienced the most absurd flake. He won the battle — I’m sad to say, I couldn’t top the text message cancellation he received half an hour before a Third Eye Blind concert offering: “Sorry, I can’t make it. I forgot I need to bandage my hamster’s leg.”

But in an effort to win the war, this morning I took a 90% amusing, 10% infuriating trip down memory lane to resurrect a few favorite personal examples of inappropriate flaking:

  • Via e-mail, at 9:45 am before a 10 am team meeting: “I can’t make it. I need to finish knitting this doggie sweater by 10:30.” This one was irritating on multiple levels: you all know how I feel about dog fashions, especially knits.
  • Via text, while I was waiting for a gentleman at a bar: “I ordered the Famous Chicken and it takes an hour to cook. I’ll just see you tomorrow.”  Note: I did not see him tomorrow. Or ever again. And just how famous can any one chicken really be?!?
  • Via e-mail, ten minutes before a Boot Camp exercise class a friend had committed to attending with me: “Ate too much ice cream. Count me out.”
  • Via text, fifteen minutes before a mutual friend’s surprise birthday dinner: “Got sucked into a Hoarders marathon. Have fun!” (Funny, but now that I think of it, I never saw THAT person again either.)
  • Sent via text, about Valentine’s Day dinner. “Oh, that’s tonight? I’m still in San Mateo.” Stand back, ladies, this one’s mine.

I am increasingly uncomfortable with my own escalating flakiness, especially since I understand just how obnoxious it can be and how little effort it takes to be base-level considerate. It’s something I am really trying to focus on (hence a 2012 resolution to return phone calls, to be on time, to not cancel anything I commit to, etc.). Of course, my quest for personal betterment has only made me more sensitive to the overt expression of aloof, flaky alleles in other people’s genetic makeups…and it boggles my mind how often I see it happen.




  1. I can completely relate to Lindsay’s rant on flakiness and the frustration that it can cause especially when the “flakes” are suppose to be our friends, family, or colleagues. What has happened to people actually sticking to their guns and doing what they say instead of taking the easy/cheap way out of their commitments? I have/had a friend who was constantly leaving me and other friends high and dry without any notice. The last time this happened was in the very end of November/beginning of December when she was suppose to come by my house and discuss moving in with me. Instead of calling or texting me that she was not going to be able to make it over, she did nothing and has yet to reach out to me months later. C’est la vie!

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