Reflecting on American youth culture, especially in places like Los Angeles, I've noticed a disappointing trend: There's a lack of accountability and an emphasis on optionality. People say they're going to do something, but often don't follow through. Is it due to poor project management skills? Maybe, but I think the root issue lies deeper.
Optionality, the notion of keeping all doors open, is celebrated. It's seen as wealth. Yet, I believe in the beauty and power of commitment. It's such a valuable trait, but seems to be losing ground in our culture. The number of events, meetings, and get-togethers can be overwhelming, especially in the summer. It's not unusual for someone with a wide network to receive multiple invitations daily. But how beneficial is it to keep all these options open, to lead people on with a 'maybe' when you know you won't attend?
This pseudo-commitment may feel like a gentle way to avoid hurting feelings. But in reality, all it achieves is a reputation for being unreliable. No one wants to invest in someone who can't return the commitment. Who wants to keep extending invitations to ungrateful recipients, or to attempt collaboration with someone who's virtually unresponsive?
This trend of flakiness is problematic. In my opinion, it's a disease, and should be treated as such. The inability to commit to someone else's plans reflects a deeper issue - an inability to commit to a version of oneself that's worth investing in.
Commitment and follow-through are skills, a way of being. Reliability too, is a way of being. Our culture might enable flakiness, but it doesn't mean we should take advantage of it.
The people you really want to work with, the ones who value commitment and reliability, they'll see through the flakiness. They, ironically, will exercise their own optionality and choose not to work with you.
It's a sobering thought, but I believe it's an important lesson to learn. Flakiness isn't a badge of honor, but a detriment to your personal and professional growth, and ultimately, your flourishing.