Frisky Rant: Don’t Send Your Friends Calendar Invites (And Other Calendar Etiquette For People Who Aren’t Monsters)

Hi, are you an organized person who has realized that a well-planned system is the key to a happy life? Great! Are you the type of friend who not only adds your loved ones’ birthdays to your calendar with a yearly recurrence, but also sets another reminder to pick up a present a few weeks in advance? Brilliant and forward thinking! Do you even send helpful calendar invites to friends, since you’re already making one anyways? STOP DOING THAT, YOU GODDAMN MONSTER.

Don’t get me wrong. I love an organized calendar. I have multiple color-coded Gmail sub-calendars for this exact reason — a system I carry with me Stockholm style from my days of being a Hollywood assistant, and maintain with more dogged consistency than I devote even to daily hygiene. Kelly green is for appointments, deep magenta for social obligations, royal blue for work-related events, the brightest red saved for writing deadlines, accompanied by all capitalized platitudes of FINISH THIS OR DIE. It is a dream. (Just look at one particularly well-organized week, above.) But the reason it works so well is because it’s my system. The second people start sending me invitations, even out of a misguided sense of helpfulness, that system teeters dangerously on the edge of collapsing into anarchy, and, well, there’s a reason communism was such a threat in the ’80s.

My calendar system, despite its rigorous color-coding, does not rely upon the standard fill-in-the-blanks prompt Gmail offers you, if you expand out your options. Who has time for that? Or more importantly, who has time to click through for that? Now that I no longer work in an office that relies on Microsoft Outlook (truly one of my greatest sadnesses switching over to the writing life), the best part of Gmail’s calendar offerings are the fact that you can click on a time slot, and a succinct little bubble pops up for your most important information. That is where I want all my details to go, in a backslashed format that I chose because em dashes didn’t look as whimsical (see: “Beyonce Bday Dinner / Roberta’s Bklyn” vs. “Beyonce Birthday — Roberta’s Bklyn” for corroborative proof),  so that I don’t have to click through for full details when I’m managing my ostensibly busy, on-the-go life. When people start sending me invitations willy-nilly, they are rarely, if ever, in said format. Fine, they are never in said format, because why would they be? To each their own calendar management system, the old trope goes. Not only do I then have to edit said invitation, I have to reformat it, and change it’s color-code, at which point I invariably dislike the person who sent me the original invite so much, that I am exponentially more disinclined to attend our social obligation, which invariably leads to multiple reschedules, all meriting their own new unwanted calendar invites, and thus went Dante’s unwritten Eighth Circle of Hell.

Moreover, people who send calendar invites to you always do one of two things (if not both). They’re either over-eager and filled to the brim with details, as if proof of impeccable life skills are buried within one’s abilities to write a book report of an invitation, or they send something along the lines of this: “Dinner with Beejoli.” How is that helpful to me? I know it’s helpful to the person who wrote it for their calendar, but now not only have you sent me an invitation that doesn’t mesh with my system, it also tells me ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Just in writing this article alone and trying to go back to find a particularly organized calendar week to screenshot, I saw four different “Dinner with Beejoli” events, and every single time for a moment I thought I had planned a meal just for myself.

As a former cubicle jockey, let me make it clear that these gentle guidelines you should follow to the letter if you don’t want to suck as a human do not apply in interoffice contexts. (If you are sending a calendar invite to someone outside of your office, even if it’s a work-related event, the rules still apply kiddo.) Outside of workplace synchronicity, however, unsolicited calendar invites are just rude. I understand their merits – you save people from ending up on a never-ending reply all chain when you send out a mass calendar invite. We all have that one friend who can never remember plans you made in advance, who definitely isn’t just ducking you because you’re calendar challenged or anything, and will never show up if you don’t toss an invite her way. No. Do not be misled. Learn the art of a BCC. Get better friends. Do not send calendar invites.

“But Beejoli, why not just decline the invite if it makes you so miserable? Live and let live!” you will cry as if you found the solution to all of my problems, even though I have been paying $85 a week for three years to a licensed professional and am no closer to solving them. Because, my condescending hummingbird, when you decline a calendar invite, not only are you a passive-aggressive dick (which I have no problem being), it still ends up on your calendar anyways, with a strikethrough to remind you of the event you did not want to be reminded of in the first damn place. I reiterate again, do not send calendar invites.

I love my calendar. It’s not just an organizational tic to keep my future commitments organized, it’s a great way to look back. I actually often will go back after the fact and add in events that happened, even spontaneously, just to keep a running log of my whereabouts, and remind myself that I do have a cool and fun life, because let’s face it, looking at an empty calendar can be relaxing in some ways, but it can also be bleak as fuck in most others. I’m not much of a diary person, despite a million abandoned efforts over the years, and my calendar is exactly that: a diary of what I did, who I was with, what I was working on at the time. I wouldn’t let others edit my diary, and I sure as hell am not going to give them that sort of control over my calendar. So please, for the love of god, if you are the type of monster who sends people non-work related calendar invites, stop doing that, unless you want to quickly find yourself with no calendar events to attend.