Camille Styles

Work Life

Are We Living In a Culture of Flakes?

November 30th, 2017

Six days, three reschedules, and two time-sensitive text messages that went unanswered for 14 hours. That’s what it took recently for a friend to pick up a couch he’d already agreed to buy from me. This behavior got the entire Career Contessa office talking, and our Editorial Director Kit Warchol was so enraged that she has deemed this the “culture of flakes.”

78%. That’s the percentage of millennials who say they’ve been “ghosted” at least once during their swinging single days. And 2. There are two women I know personally who accepted job offers only to have their potential employer disappear on them entirely.

I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the rise of flakiness in our culture first-hand. Having spent four-plus years on the online dating circuit, I’ve heard all the last-minute excuses (my favorite: a sprained wrist). And I can count on one hand the friends I have that make plans more than 24 hours in advance.

Then there’s professional flakiness. Every time I schedule an interview with someone for an article, I email them the day before so they remember we have an appointment on the books. Yes, even if they already have a calendar invite. I do this because I have a 100% track record that if I don’t, they won’t.

featured image via the everygirl

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  1. Jennifer Rose Smith says:

    Lauren — thanks for boldly taking on this topic. Fascinating stuff. I’ve found that different people speak different languages when it comes to social commitment. For one person, “Let’s hang out this weekend – I’ll text you,” means literally that. And for another, it just means “I’m trying to end this conversation in a way that shows I like you.” I think the key to navigating it all is becoming fluent in these different languages, and getting better at identifying them.

  2. Amy says:

    Do you ever watch Seinfeld? Those people ghost on each other all the time! It’s literally the main plotline of multiple episodes. I think the difference was that, in the 90’s, people didn’t have cell phones so there was just an unspoken rule that if someone didn’t show up, they couldn’t make it for some reason and you’d never know why. As a millennial, it seems like unimaginable freedom to think no one could contact you once you left your house. Maybe we’re just reacting to the pressure of being available 24/7?

  3. Cynthia says:

    I appreciate the topic and hope it resonates with those that need a jab. I am old enough to have known the world pre and post cell phone and I do feel it is part of the problem. I used to be able to schedule a meeting or lunch with someone weeks in advance and with no further communication, meet on time and at the planned venue because we both wrote it in our planners and knew the other would be there waiting. Now it seems I can’t attend anything without a text from someone…running late, missed the ferry, looking for parking, etc. Because texting makes it so easy to make excuses, many folks don’t try as hard to be prompt, conscientious, courteous, and reliable. And these are folks of all ages, not just the younger ones.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    This resonates deeply with me as I was just ghosted by a potential employer this past month, after three successful interviews with different members of the company. I have experienced this kind of behavior before from millennial “start ups,” but from a company that’s been around longer than I’ve been alive… admittedly I was taken aback. Socially, however, flaking has definitely become the norm. Among friends, whenever someone asks, “Where’s Jane? She said she was coming,” I answer, “No, she millennialed out of this one.” 🙂

  5. Jeanne says:

    Excellent article and comments. Thank you so much for such an extensive write up. I can’t really add too much to it except that I think the trend shows a distinct lack of empathy. Studies show that chronic flakers excuse their behavior based on their own intentions and do not consider the effect on those they flake on. I can’t see it getting much better as they won’t know to teach their own children consideration. .

  6. Brandy says:

    I like the article but I don’t think it’s a millennial only problem and not being a millennial I find it mildly amusing and slightly annoying that millennial articles always seem to exclude everyone else. My point being is I’m 40 and I have also been ghosted by employers and friends, several times. We live in a culture of text messaging and a message of I’m so busy. Along the way we have lost that connection, community and responsibility for our actions. I’ve watched it slowly happen with the invention of cellphones and the internet. I’m hoping that by reading articles like this, people might wake up and realize that being flaky isn’t a great quality to have.

  7. Eva says:

    “There are two women I know personally who accepted job offers only to have their potential employer disappear on them entirely.” Wow! I had no idea this was happening, how unprofessional.

    I agree with a lot of the comments on here and I’ve discussed this a lot with my partner. Personally, I think a lot of problems come from social media. We feel like we’ve been in touch with our friends because we’ve checked on their Instagram posts, so we feel like we know what’s happening in their lives when we really don’t. In a lot of ways, Facebook has taken over our meet ups and communities, and lulled us into thinking we’re being a lot more social than we are. We’re also perpetually exhausted by seeing everyone’s travel photos, opinions, etc, so at the same time we’re overloaded by other people’s lives. With all these things, I feel like it’s easier than ever to flake: our quotas are full of stimuli, our brains are full of news/work/financial worries, and we think we’re a lot closer to our friends than we really are. Hopefully as people figure out some of these habits, we can move away from them!

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