I’m in need of some relatively unbiased opinions, and people here are smart. First, some background.
I belong to a relatively large and somewhat tightly associated social circle, united largely by a common hobby. Depending on exactly where you draw the boundaries, there are probably between 80 and 100 people in this group within a relatively close geographical area.
It’s sort of the custom among this group to have large inclusive parties where everyone in the group is invited. Even those who aren’t explicitly invited end up sort of invited by default, and everyone deals if extra people happen to show up.
This past weekend my partner and I had a party. Intentionally, we wanted to have a smallish gathering of about 15-20 people. So we sent out invitations (email), trying to pick a cut set of people which wouldn’t sever any particularly important social bonds.
Party happened, it went well, people had a good time.
Then Monday morning rolled around. As it turns out, one of the people who didn’t get invited was very offended. Her stated reason for offense was that her two housemates were invited and she wasn’t. In her mind this was a deliberate exclusion, and evidence that things are Wrong between us in some way.
(The situation is complicated by the fact that instead of talking to us about this problem, the person went to someone else, who chose to broadcast this into a large public debate. But that’s a separate ill.)
So here’s the point I’m stuck on. The person is looking for, I believe, an apology coupled with an excuse. That is, a story along the lines of “oh, we thought you’d be busy”, or “that was just an oversight - of course we meant to invite you”, or “we were mostly going to be playing Mah-jongg, and we know you don’t like to play”. We could do this and probably move on with our lives.
But what I would like to say instead is more complex. What I would like to express is the notion that this person has no right to be offended. Furthermore, even inquiring into why one wasn’t invited is rude, in my opinion. It seems to me that society works best if guests - invited or not - do not pry open the lid and try to determine the algorithm used for determining who gets invited and who doesn’t. Maybe we invited only people with diabetes. Maybe we invited only people we suspect of having webbed feet, so we could embarrass them on the slip-and-slide. Maybe we only invited people with children whom we haven’t seen in a while. Or maybe we invited the eighteen people we like best in the whole world, and you’re only our 23rd best friend.
This, however, seems to be such a radical departure from the social norm in this group that I fear to take a public stand. What I’d like to figure out is whether this is normal in the world at large. Am I off base, and if so, how far? If I try to take a stand on this issue, and assuming the group is more-or-less representative of society at large, should I expect rallying support or social ostricization? Is there any high ground here, or is it all case-by-case and each social group decides for itself?
If it helps any, this groups is by and large pretty geeky. The Geek Social Fallacy #5 seems like it’s applicable here.
Thanks for any insights - even if it’s just to tell me that I’m being clueless.