Hot take (noun): A quickly produced, strongly worded and often deliberately provocative or sensational opinion or reaction (Merriam Webster).
In the age of social media, where anyone can put anything on the internet without regard for veracity or consequences, hot takes have become increasingly common, or perhaps just increasingly vocalized. Hot takes can range from serious to silly, and span an infinite range of topics.
But why is any of this relevant? It’s relevant because I have many hot takes — mostly inconsequential ones —and I’ve decided to share them with you lovely Daily readers in a new series, entitled simply, “Hot Takes.”
So with that, I’d like to share with you all my first hot take: Flaking is fine.
Flaking: We’ve seen the memes. We’ve experienced it. We’ve done it, most likely. And we generally vilify it. Is it really that bad, though? In my opinion, it’s totally fine, within reason.
First, I’d like to clarify what I’m defending. When I say “flaking,” I’m not including standing someone up. That isn’t flaking. Flaking is making plans and then canceling them later on, usually at the last minute. And just like anything else, there are limits. “At the last minute” doesn’t mean texting someone to say you can’t make it to dinner only five minutes before the agreed upon meeting time, when you know they’re either already there or have already left to go there. Basically, “the last minute” — by my definition, at least — is the last point at which the other person has almost certainly not left to go to the arranged event or meeting place.
Of course, this is a little more flexible in group situations. In that case, the degree of flakiness is based on the level of inconvenience to the group. Let’s say, for example, a group of 10 people were going to see a movie, and you were all going to buy tickets at the theater. If you tell the group you can’t make it to the movie as people are arriving, most likely that results only in a minor level of inconvenience. If, however, this movie group was made up of four couples and two single people, one of whom is you, then there is probably a tacit agreement in the group — conscious or not — that people will pair off. In this case, if you tell them you won’t be there as people are arriving, this is an entirely different situation, since your presence was key to stabilizing the group dynamic of the social outing.
Then there are meetings and extracurricular socials and events. If you’ve been involved with extracurriculars at Stanford, you know that turnout can often be a problem. Similar to the group situation, the severity of flaking on a meeting depends on the level of inconvenience your absence will cause. If it’s a small meeting, or you’ll be contributing or receiving crucial information, of course it’s more serious if you flake. But if it’s not that deep, then, it’s not that deep. The situation is a little different for socials, since those are less about doing something important and productive and more about building group camaraderie, and, consequently, turnout for these events seems to suffer the most, creating somewhat of a vicious cycle in which people in a group, club or organization don’t feel close enough to each other to want to stop flaking on socials, but then that same flaking prevents them from getting closer. To be honest, I have no idea how to fix this problem — this is a hot take, not a research paper — but I maintain that flaking is perfectly fine.
So, why isn’t flaking so bad? (And can Kiara explain her hot takes without excessive use of rhetorical questions?) Well, it’s because people flake for a reason, even if that doesn’t seem to be the case at first glance. Think about the last time you flaked. Why did you flake? Was it because you had a lot of homework? Another commitment, maybe? Biking across campus just wasn’t appealing? Perhaps you heard your bed calling out to you forlornly, begging you to take a nap? Surprise (or probably not, if you’ve read this far)! All of those reasons are legitimate. Isn’t it preferable that you do the thing you actually want to do, instead of going to an event or meeting where you’d just be stressed or tired or thinking about everything except this commitment you didn’t flake on?
Life is short. It’s better to put all of your energy into the thing you actually want to be doing than to put a fraction of your energy into something else just to avoid being a flake.
Of course, this doesn’t mean start flaking on everything you plan. But when you do flake, know that it’s fine, because a random Grind writer said so.
Contact Kiara Harding at kiluha’at’stanford.edu.