A popular meme on Twitter shows a corona self-test and a red wooden pencil with which someone draws a second line below the control line – turning a negative test into a positive one. It’s the perfect excuse for almost any occasion: don’t feel like going to the office party? The fourth family celebration in a month? A date, even though it’s just so cozy in the hammock on the balcony? If the Covid-19 test is positive, nobody will ask.
There are certain appointments that cannot be canceled without reason, for example a wedding or a birthday party with close friends or close relatives. But you’ve long needed a good excuse to cancel pseudo-obligations: if you don’t want to come along for an after-work drink or if you’d rather spend a summer evening on the couch than at the rooftop bar. At least a half-hearted “can’t make it today after all”, which indicates busyness, diligence and overtime, especially this summer. After two years with almost no concerts, festivals, folk festivals and big parties, replacement dates, invitations and the common summer Fomo (short for: Fear of missing outthe fear of missing out).
One advice site recommends simply making up a sick pet as an excuse
It’s socially acceptable to blame deadlines, headaches, or a burst water pipe, no matter how transparent the lie. An honest “don’t want to” on the other hand? That you don’t want to go out anymore, that you need rest, that you’re not in the mood for people in general or for specific people? That you don’t feel comfortable and don’t want to do anything? Outrageous!
This is wrong on several levels. Not only is being reluctantly stuck at a family party or work event costing a lifetime, but also finding reasons to stay away. Nevertheless, the Internet is full of questions and tips for good excuses. There are numerous forum posts on Gutefrage.net with desperate calls: Best excuses to cancel a meeting? In order not to drive somewhere? What if you don’t want to hurt anyone? Magazines like Bravo and instyle publish corresponding advice texts online, Focus suggests as an excuse for a date: “Not only can you be ill on the date of the meeting. It is also possible that your pet (if you have one) has become ill and you therefore urgently need to visit the veterinary office.” How much more confident would “thanks, but I’m not interested” be? And how sustainable. If you cancel an appointment because of an excuse, you will probably be asked again and then have to overcome yourself or have endless creative excuses ready.
Corona has revealed how powerful the collective compulsion to do things is
Since mindfulness and self-care have become popular, we have learned to say no, to listen to our needs – but the social pressure and the obsession with optimizing our free time have so far remained unaffected. On the contrary, Corona has revealed how powerful the collective compulsion to undertake is. Since the beginning of the pandemic, one can read on Twitter that people are happy because contact bans and exit restrictions were an excuse to stay at home without a guilty conscience because they don’t have to justify themselves for once. “Once the pandemic is over, what excuse are you using to keep meeting people?” one user tweeted a while back.
It is quite good that there is a small threshold to cancel. Sometimes evenings and nights that you didn’t feel like having, turn out to be the best of all. Often, that too is part of the truth, but not. Not wanting to cancel is the worst possible reason to go anywhere. It’s no use sitting reluctantly on great-uncle Herbert’s 73rd birthday out of a guilty conscience while just thinking about how much you’d love to lie by the lake and read right now.
If you cancel honestly without an excuse, it will be easier for everyone involved in the future to tell the truth and to evade the social pressure to justify themselves. Maybe the other person is just thinking about what excuse to use to cancel and is happy about the evening off. If you’re still worried about not being invited back after you’ve declined, remember that luckily there are people you can tell, “I don’t feel like company today, just pistachio ice cream and a season of ‘Friends’.” , and who understand that. Those relationships are the most valuable.