BBQ season is about to unleash its smokey, greasy, beer-y vibes all over you. Are you ready for a summer of meat and day drinking? Good—but first, here's how to get everyone together online without offending anyone.
Paperless Post is for weddings. Mass text invites end in chaos. Group emails are a pain in the ass, and easy to forget. The Facebook Event is the cleanest, fastest way to corral everyone you want to be around in one central place, making directions, timing, and who's bringing the potato salad a matter of clicks. Odds are, a lot (if not all) of the people you want at your backyard rager are on Facebook—so let's do this thing without pissing anyone off.
Baby steps! This first step is small, but it's critical. When you navigate over to Events and click to create your own, make sure you cruise down to "Privacy," and select "Invite Only." Otherwise, your awesome time will become public record as soon as you proceed, potentially setting you up for a lot of "So, uh, I heard you were having a party..." moments with people you despise. You don't want this. Nobody wants this. Lock it down, and invite friends manually. It'll take longer than just letting the riff raff flock to you, but really, is that who you want at your Best Thing Ever?
The velvet rope. Two important things after you've decided who to invite: will the guest list be visible, and can people invite friends in turn?
Yes and no.
There's a funny thing about us hyperconscious, digitally insecure humans—we'll only go somewhere if we think other people think it's worth going to. And that can create a chicken/egg mess! To get the snowball rolling, make sure your friends can see that, no, this party will not be deserted, but in fact other people they know will be present. It'll only be viewable to people you invite to begin with, and those people will now be far more likely to RSVP yes (and actually show up) that way, and it'll help everyone coordinate for the day. A Facebook invite without a visible guest list is like being invited to the principal's office.
But while it's good to make sure everyone's visibly friendly, don't let them get too friendly—allowing pals to invite their own Facebook friends to your event is a surefire way to have an uncomfortable, crowded party. If you're down with people tagging along—that's fine! Just say so in the comments. This makes partygoers feel like they're up to a higher standard—Is this someone _______ would actually like?—rather than just inviting whoever the hell they spontaneously think of on Facebook. It also knocks off the chance that your nemesis or the snubbed multitudes will be inadvertently added to the guest list.
It takes only a minute to add accurate time, location, and date information to your event. Need someone to bring a six pack? Write on the wall. Does it look like it's going to rain that night? Send out a group message. You're playing host, and just because Facebook is automating most of it doesn't push you off the hook for keeping things in order.
The nice thing about using sophisticated Internet tools to strategise our social lives is that it gives you a million new excuses for being a dick. If you intentionally excluded someone from your party—or just forgot they exist—and you're put into a tight spot, just fib! Scrolling through a list of all your friends means you might have plausibly missed someone, so just roll with the "Ah, y'know, I thought I invited you! I must have forgotten to click, or mis-clicked, or..." and then send a pity invite.
This isn't for you as a inviter, but for the rest of you, as the invited: if you're going to show up, say yes. If you're not, dont say yes. The casualness with which people say they're attending something just for its own sake—to pad some imaginary social calendar—makes actually throwing a real party with real people a pain in the ass. RSVPing doesn't have anywhere near the same formality as it once did, but it still serves the same purpose. Be considerate—yeah, even on Facebook.
And if you're afraid of being the one downer who will appear in the "No" list on the visible guest list, just don't reply and shoot a message to the person throwing the shindig.
Really, there's a way around everything. Now just get the BBQ going.
Photo: Chaloner Woods/Hulton
User Manual is Gizmodo's guide to etiquette.