Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Bail – Get out of your plans, guilt free (bail-app.netlify.com)
83 points by chris140957 9 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 163 comments



Is this even a thing or just a landing page with an email harvester?


Ugh, I missed that.

All: Show HN requires that a thing exists and that people can try it out. A sign up page doesn't count. Please read the rules: https://news.ycombinator.com/showhn.html


Just a landing page


Back of envelope total addressable market calculation:

I’m guessing this will appeal greatly to people 3 or 4 standard deviations to the “introverted” side of the introvert/extrovert bell curve. So maybe 0.15% if it’s as high as only 3 sigma.

It’ll be useful to people who’s friendship circles overlap in that 3 standard deviations of introversion.

Let’s assume Dunbars much discredited but widely quoted ideas are right, and that people typically have ~150 social connections.

So there’s about a 1.5:1000 chance that someone would find this useful.

There’s about a 1:50 chance that any of their friends would also find it useful. (That May be higher if introverts tend to have more introverted friends, but is more likely way lower if introverts have fewer friends than extroverts).

In a city of 5 million, there are probably 150 people who’d have one friend for which this is useful, and maybe 3 people who would use it with two of their friends...

My assumptions might be way off. But to a first approximation nobody is ever going to find this actually useful in their real world relationships...


I think more than 0.15% of people feel guilt/anxiety about wanting to cancel plans last minute. I don't have any data to back that up, but it is a fairly common emotion.

999/1000 people feel nothing when they have to renege on a social engagement?


It's not just feeling guilt/anxiety though.

It's that combined with wanting to avoid regular calling/texting/emailing type communication saying you want to cancel, and even then only in situations where the reason for cancelling is trivial enough that the other person actively looking forward to it is good enough grounds to go anyway.

Could easily be significantly less than 1/1000 who feel guilt/anxiety and also don't have the communication skills to deal with it in ways an app like this would help?


What you seem to propose - calling/etc to establish that you want to cancel only if they do too - isn't a real mode of communication though. People are generally sufficiently polite that if you tell them that, they will cancel the plans even if they were looking forward to it.

I agree that an app to solve this seems a bit overblown, but it does address a real thing which regular communication cannot. Communication skills aren't the issue, base human politeness is.


I guess it depends on how direct you want/need to be.

I reckon I send a "hey, we still on for tonight?" message to sound the other person out about how keen they are approximately once or twice a month maybe?

(Also, I feel there's possibly an unstated thing going on here. If the only decider about whether or not you are going to go out tonight is being able to identify with reasonable certainty that the other person is (or is not) considering "bailing" on you, there could well be stuff going on that means going out tonight is 100% the right thing for you to do. Depression is a sneaky bastard, the way it makes you think sitting on your couch and arguing on the internet is a better way to spend your evening that grabbing drinks/movie/dinner/walk/shooting-pool with a friend. Even your friend _was_ vaguely considering bailing on you, it's super likely that spending time with them is a way better way to be happy than ditching them... Possibly for both of you.)


No, you're probably right. "Are we on for tonight" is within a rounding error of what I was talking about.

I think the depression is a reasonable call. I think a lot of people also feel altogether too concerned about others' wants at the expense of their own. Both of those probably don't need an app to encourage them.


No those people just know how to communicate like a normal human and say hey I'm really not up for it tonight let's reschedule. If anyone replies negatively or aggressively to that they then should find new friends. This is ridiculous


I agree you should be able to communicate with friends/others, especially if it makes you uncomfortable. You shouldn't be able to flee any situation that causes some anxiety.

At the same time it is surprising that you can't even a little bit relate to the anxiety of trying to figure out how to get out of a social engagement. It is very reductive to recommend that you just 'find new friends'.


"communicate like a normal human" is a bit unnecessarily negative/aggressive there. Some people genuinely do have trouble with that. belittling them isn't gonna help any...


Normal is a perfectly fine adjective. If you struggle with something like social anxiety by definition that's not normal. Not normal doesn't imply bad, it means not normal


"Not normal doesn't imply bad"

From a purely pedantic standpoint: sure. But, uh, I wouldn't suggest going around dropping that one in conversation with people you'd like to have conversations with in the future.


> Not normal doesn't imply bad, it means not normal

"Normal" is derived from "norm" which does indeed carry a strong moral connotation. Someone who is not normal ("abnormal") is failing to live up to society's norms. There's a reason why people have been pushing against using this word for years — it has a negative connotation.

If you're trying to simply say "statistically uncommon", then "atypical" or "unusual" are better neutral words.


I can't imagine being friends with someone who is this incapable of communicating.

The solution to this problem is sending a text that says, "Hey, I'm not feeling like coming out today after all. Rain check?" This app is a worse solution than the obvious solution.

Trying to be empathetic: if you feel the need to use something like this, I'm not qualified to diagnose you as having social anxiety, but I would suggest you talk to someone who is qualified to diagnose you with social anxiety.


But this app doesn't send any notification to the other person unless they also bail, so it is not equivalent to sending that text.

If the other person doesn't bail, you can stick with the commitment.

That opens possibilities, like getting a better opinion about time spent with that person.


That... also sounds worse. This is all just advocating for not actually communicating with your friends. That's not friendship, that's transactional hanging-out.


The optimal choice for using this app is to always bail.

I mean, if you don't bail, the other person(s) might not want to be there.

If "the double bail" does occur; more time to hang out with other people or be alone.


This is exactly Prisoner's Dilemma and all relevant literature applies. Iterate a few times with a large population and the optimal strategy goes to all sorts of weird places.


Well, in the Prisoner's Dilemma is that you can't communicate or trust each other: you're assuming everyone acts in self-interest.

...which is exactly the opposite of the assumption I make with my friends, especially when the stakes are this low.


I can imagine two friends who love each others company and desperately want to hang out keep canceling plans because they have the app set to let the other one out.

They each end up spending time with more demanding people who don’t care what they want.

(Because this is the internet: kidding. The app can work, just be honest with the app at least)


I think a lot of people here are missing the point.

Let me tell you a story.

Wednesdays, my friends and I go to the bar to hang out. We grab some beers and some wings, and we have a bit of a chat about, y'know, whatever. Sometimes we're around because someone just wants some company. Sometimes we're around because someone just wants to gripe about something going on. Sometimes we're there because... well, some Wednesdays we're there just because.

And, y'know, it makes me happy to be around when people want to hang out, for whatever reason, because we're friends and that's what friends do.

But sometimes, maybe, I could just as well go home. Like, I'm not opposed to the idea of going: If someone wants to get something off their chest or just really feels like hanging around having a laugh, I'm more than happy to be there with them. But nor, particularly, do I care about being there this particular Wednesday, except for the other guys.

Don't get me wrong: Some Wednesdays I really don't want to go, I've had a shit day at work, I didn't sleep well, and I just want to go home and lay in bed with a book until I crash. Those days, I'll just send a message saying that I'm not up for coming out tonight, sorry.

On the other hand, those nights where I could take it or leave it, I don't really want to send a text saying "hey guys do you want to, maybe, cancel this evening? like, I don't wanna not go, but y'know, I don't want to go either?", because that sounds like some tedious bullshit. And if anyone who didn't particularly give a shit had to announce to the world every time they did not, in fact, give a shit, we'd all get over that really quickly.

The fact that I don't care for sending that message (or receiving a bunch of them either) doesn't really mean a whole lot, in and of itself: It just means that I end up going out more frequently than is, I guess, 'optimal'. And this isn't a problem that needs solving, because eating a couple of wings when I otherwise wouldn't once every two months is hardly a herculean struggle for me, but solving that minor coordination problem isn't exactly an act that devalues my friendships in any way.

Maybe it would make Wednesdays at the pub a little bit more special, because you never have the nights when no one is particularly excited about being there.


Why not just poll the audience? "How's everybody feeling about wings tonight? I'm kind of ambivalent but I'll come out if anybody else wants to."

It's not complicated, all I did was just summarize how you said you felt in two sentences.


I feel like if you really wanted to use technology to fix this issue, it's just as easily -- and maybe better? -- done in a more affirmative way. Say you have a repeating calendar invite for your nights out. Everyone agrees that they'll leave the invitation un-responded until they definitively do or do not want to meet up. If, within an hour or so (or whatever) of the meeting time, no one has replied "yes" to the invitation, it's implicitly canceled. If at least one person says "yes", then others who are on the fence can see that someone else really wants to meet up, and possibly decide to join.

Regardless, I agree, as you say, that this problem maybe isn't really one that needs solving. But I also agree that using some sort of no-communication-needed app to solve this particular coordination problem does not present an apocalyptic threat to human social interactions ;)


I feel like it being implicitly cancelled would be a bug, not a feature, but maybe that's because my scenario is, generally speaking, a positive thing that most people want to attend, and increasing friction is just not something anyone wants.

We're mostly just agreeing about the idea and nitpicking about the particulars, though.


Yeah, that's a good point. I think I personally like the idea of a default-on get-together vs. one where people have to opt-in week after week. And, again, I do agree that your use case would be a really benign and useful way to solve your problem.


I get what you're saying, but with both these scenarios -- (1) "going out when you don't feel like it because a friend needs your support" or (2) "telling a friend you don't feel like going out because you're feeling down, but they realize they have the energy between the both of you to buoy your low spirit" -- these are both important social negotiations that make us better at human'ing. An app that attempts to take them away is one that makes us less good at being the best sort of human to one another, imho (and more likely to fall behind on the practices that keep social anxiety at bay).

All just my opinion of course, and spoken from a place of care :)


I don't know that either of your statements encapsulates exactly how I think about my Wednesdays. It's not that I "don't feel like" going out, it's that I don't know whether or not I don't not want to not go out or not. Help?

I do get, you though. This isn't a tool that I'd want to put every single one of my calendar events into, but it's a tool I can see being useful for some class of events, with some other people.


Someone explained to me once that they had a friend who always cancels on them, or vice versa and they always cancel on them. And it was an open secret between the two of them that they both strongly hate going out, like serious dread feeling. So they would make plans with each other, or even have a standing date... and rather than anyone getting upset when someone inevitably decides to cancel the plans, both of them actually get a huge euphoric rush each time.

It's such a relief whenever they found out they don't really have to go out today!

They were best friends, and they hardly ever saw each other. At least that's exactly how they described it to me... (or, if anyone else has seen this show and remembers, maybe that didn't happen, but I guess it was believable anyway!)


Sounds like Ron Swanson


Why are any of these possibilities relevant or desirable? You're complicating something that is simple: spend time with people you want to spend time with, don't spend time with people you don't want to spend time with, and tell the truth about it.

The "possibility" this opens up is not taking responsibility for your own choices, and keeping really inane secrets from people who are supposedly your friends.


To be fair I think this falls into the category of "ugh I'm not really feeling like going out... and I don't want to disappoint my friend.... if only I knew he wasn't too hot to trot tonight as well..."

But I understand your point and agree with you. I prefer direct communication. If you don't want to hang out just say so - I like clarity.


in those instances I'm almost always glad I went afterwards even if I wasn't feeling "hot to trot" before.


Ok. I think you're right, but I just want to point out that people who are inclined to do things like this experience irrational thoughts. Anxiety is not rational. It fills my mind with irrational thoughts. It makes me afraid of things that rationally do not pose any risk whatsoever. I understand that my social anxiety should be fixed and I should not be inclined to do something like this. Truth is, it's very hard to communicate everything well with people, I have no problem communicating most things to my friends, but some things are very hard. This seems to be always missing in this conversation.


I agree.

The protocol works, but it does avoid emotional honesty. If this is a chronic thing, then perhaps there are some unsaid things that need to be said between the friends.

For others reading this, I suggest a book called Crucial Conversations. If bailing out is a proxy for deeper issues in the friendship, maybe it is time to have a good chat about it.


> If this is a chronic thing, then perhaps there are some unsaid things that need to be said between the friends.

I have an idea for that! How about an app where you can write things to your friend, which are held in the system's escrow.

"unsaidthings.io"

Then a machine learning algorithm compares them for similarity/reciprocity. If they are similar, then the escrow is released, otherwise neither person knows whether the other submitted anything at all, or whether they did and it was different.

The prototype can skip the machine learning algorithm and instead let the people select from one of 64 possible messages that are compared according to a static table. Or else be allowed to compose sentences out of fragments guided by a "writing assistant" which guides their structure into possibilities that are easy to analyze.


No, this fundamentally is misunderstanding the problem.

Unreciprocated ideas are exactly the kind of things that need to be addressed most for honest relationships.


Make sure to mention this one next time there is a thread about project ideas!


I've wanted an escrow for messages containing spoilers.


Agree this is not the solution (though I find it funny and clever), and I say that as someone with lifelong social anxiety.

In fact I think it's counterproductive because you'd bail more often and get less practice with confronting and overcoming anxiety. Avoidance is really tempting, but not the answer.


[deleted]


Somehow you equivocate being emphatic with being an awful communicator, specifically the type that says one thing when they actually mean something else entirely.

It's completely normal -- and expected -- from good friends to join you for a beer or for some other activity they are not thrilled about in order to make you happy. And then you reciprocate, because that's what friends do.

Your friends help you move not because they have nothing better to do, because they are your friends. It's silly for both parties to pretend they like to help each other move, and if you have a solid relationship they'll tell you how much they hate moving but you know they'll still show up.


I disagree, hear me out. The reason this app makes sense is because if you are an empathetic person, and know other empathetic people, there's actually no good way to solve this problem through direct communication.

Lets say you have plans with someone. But then, you decide fundamentally: if the other person would still like to do this, I am happy to. But if not, I'd prefer not to. This is the game theoretic situation this app attempts to solve.

Now lets figure out a way to solve this problem through direct communication. The problem with trying to do so, is often when someone expresses a change to preferences, if you assume that person is empathetic, they will likely be diluting the degree to their change insofar as that change could negatively affect the recipient of the news. Why?

It's because there's a catch-22 in this situation between empathy and honesty. Empathy dictates we try to maximize utility between the parties. When expressing this new preference, if one is empathetic, one expresses it in a way to try to maximize the likelihood that the other party interprets it in a way they can still act selfishly to the maximally acceptable degree. However, the recipient of the information, if empathetic, can anticipate this, and hence may interpret the person's statement as pre-diluted, so in order to maximize utility from their perspective (out of empathy) they in turn may yield due to the imperfect information and assume the preference expressed is stronger than implied by the statement directly. In other words, if I hear this from someone, I put even odds that the person is being completely honest (out of valuing honesty), or, that they actually would really want to skip this plan if it would not cause me emotional pain, and have chosen to continue to express it in a way that leaves the option open (out of valuing empathy.) I know people who would do one or the other, and I don't consider either approach a sign of a moral failure.

In reality, both sides of the communication wrangle with the conflict between empathy + utility maximization in framing their expression, and honesty, which (despite its virtue) runs the risk of being misinterpreted given the other party may assume it is being diluted to maximize utility out of their empathy. Diluting the statement or being direct about it are both rational, depending on how important maximizing utility is due to empathy vs expressing honest preferences.

This app neatly solves this problem. It's not about reducing social awkwardness, it's about preventing the need for mutually-empathetic individuals to have to make trade-offs between the competing desires for objective communication (out of the value of honesty) and trying to maximize utility (out of the value of empathy and selflessness.) If one could be certain another party is being honest, this kind of technique would not be necessary, but since dishonesty in this situation falls out of empathy, its potentially virtuous and comes down to a preference of one's values in how to deal with the situation.


No, you are way overthinking this. There isn't a conflict between empathy and honesty, at least not in my relationships, because an empathetic friend would realize that I don't want to be lied to.

If your friends are mature adults, they can handle being told that someone doesn't want to hang out with them sometimes, without taking it personally. If they can't handle that, that's a problem that needs to be addressed--it's not a kind or empathetic thing to walk around on eggshells and let that problem fester and grow. This isn't a "kind lie" even if such a thing exists. What you're describing isn't empathy for your friends, it's fear/anxiety that your friends won't react well, and if your friends are quality friends at all, it's not a rational fear.

To be clear, moral failure has nothing to do with my argument: I don't even believe in morality in an absolute sense. My argument is that, assuming people want to have cooperative, enjoyable interactions with friends, the best way to achieve that is to tell the truth about what you want and expect the same from your friends.


I’m sorry but this has nothing to do with empathy. As an adult, you should have the grace to understand that sometimes people, for whatever reason, don’t feel up to hanging out.

You are seriously overthinking this. Empathetic people can still communicate.


My claim is that empathetic people can be dishonest and still be virtuous, not that no empathetic people can be honest. Concretely, I know people who do not express preferences directly on such things where it may harm me, out of empathy for me. I don't consider these people morally corrupt despite not being completely truthful. An app like this (or any tool like this) which removes the conflict between these values seems productive since unhappiness stems from not being able to live according to our value preferences.

I'm not sure who the "you" are addressing here, I'm talking about this problem from a game theoretic perspective which abstracts over all people.

It some situations there will be no lack of clarity - for example, if two people prefer honesty over empathy (shorthand for "will people be more honest even if they are concerned it will not maximize utility between the parties, or they are aware such utility is not at risk"), there will be no source of moral confusion. It's when there's unrevealed information about value judgements this problem manifests.


> My claim is that empathetic people can be dishonest and still be virtuous, not that no empathetic people can be honest. Concretely, I know people who do not express preferences directly on such things where it may harm me, out of empathy for me. I don't consider these people morally corrupt despite not being completely truthful. An app like this (or any tool like this) which removes the conflict between these values seems productive since unhappiness stems from not being able to live according to our value preferences.

It seems like this is a reasonable response to andrewzah, but to be clear, my argument has nothing to do with virtue--I don't even believe in virtue ethics.

I also know people who don't express preferences directly when they think those preferences will harm me. We can call this empathy or we can call it fear, but what it comes down to is that it's irrational: the end result is that they don't get what they want from the relationships in their life, and that comes out in negative behaviors.

This isn't a moral judgment of these people, it's just not something I want to deal with: I'll try to help these people work through their social anxiety, but if that doesn't work, that's going to limit how close we can be, because I can't trust them to be honest with me.

It's not kindness/empathy to coddle these people, either: that's just enabling them in a behavior that is going to limit them in many aspects of their life.


The issue with dishonesty in the context of relationships is not an ethical or moral consideration.

It has to do with the health of the relationship, whether people can really be connected with each other. A good chunk of drama that happens among people happen unnecessarily, often because they don't feel they can be honest with each other. They cannot be who they really feel.

Are there times people going to have white lies? Yes. Or how about withohlding information out of concern for them? Sure.

Figuring out whether you want to go the bar is one thing. It's when these things really matter, where people are not aligned in what they want out of the relationship that trying to keep things from each other makes things fall apart quickly.

Even simple things like, a friend who keeps asking you to go hangout with him, would borrow money from you and never return it. You feel used. But you also feel you cannot say anything for whatever reason. How can you tell this person, this behavior is not OK while keeping him as a friend? (Do you even want him to remain a friend?)

A married couple with kids. One of them is offered a promotion, but it requires moving overseas. It is a big opportunity, potentially career-defining. The other partner would have to leave a job and it would be highly disruptive to the kids, and does not want to move. Do you think putting this into a communication escrow app will help with talking this out? I don't think so.


The dishonesty doesn't help anybody, and it makes navigating the relationship more difficult for all parties. Empathic dishonesty is a consequence of poor social skills, where people don't know how to be truthful and set boundaries without being hurtful.


So says you. Like I said, I know people like this, and I am not willing to label them as people who have poor social skills or other disparaging things. I don't consider this category of dishonesty to be one that a person necessarily needs to correct, if there are approaches to the scenario where the conflict between honesty and empathy that conflict for them could allow the person to live more according to their values by preventing the need to make the trade-off altogether.


> Like I said, I know people like this, and I am not willing to label them as people who have poor social skills or other disparaging things.

Labeling things like "ignorance" and "poor social skills" as "disparaging" isn't particularly useful. When I say someone is ignorant or has poor social skills, that's not a statement that they're a bad person, it's an identification of a problem they have (which is correctable).

> I don't consider this category of dishonesty to be one that a person necessarily needs to correct

It sounds like this may be the core of our disagreement.

I won't say that a person "needs" to correct it--instead I would say that the person, and my friendship with that person, will be significantly limited by not correcting this problem.


Your suggestion that honesty and empathy are in conflict implies that honest people are less empathetic, which is at least as disparaging as anything I said.

I'm not suggesting it's something they need to correct. The problem tends to solve itself through selection. Flaky people hang out with other flaky people. Dishonest people have dishonest friends. Mercenary and opportunistic people have friends who are likewise.

Why bother with these elaborate rationalizations to justify dishonesty?


" if there are approaches to the scenario where the conflict between honesty and empathy that conflict for them could allow the person to live more according to their values by preventing the need to make the trade-off altogether."

I disagree that avoiding the trade-off makes things better off.

But at least you've made your views known and so have I.


"It's because there's a catch-22 in this situation between empathy and honesty. "

This is one of the exact things addressed in Crucial Conversations:

(1) The authors recognize that a lot of people feel this way. That they are either brutally honest or they don't talk about it.

(2) That people often feels this way because they don't know how to talk about difficult things. It does not have to be this way.

The authors lay out the steps for being able to communicate difficult conversations with anyone. Is it still going to be unpleasant? Yes. But it does not involve an either-or choice of being "brutally honest" and being "empathetic".

These are especially important in conversations these authors call "crucial conversations": important conversations that people have a lot of stake in its outcome, when opinions differ, and emotions run high. These are literally the underpinning of every relationship I know, be them romantic partnerships, to relationship with friends, with bosses, with people who work for you.

The key thing to getting out of that seeming either-or trap, is to understand that you can talk to anyone about anything if they trust you. They trust you because you sincerely want something that includes them. That you are not out to get them or trap them into things. That perhaps, you both want the same things though you might not see it. That you both are sharing in some shared meaning together.

It is a very practical book. It lays things out in ways that are catchy and easy to remember.

It's the book I gave to a friend of mine for a wedding present after I have been married for three years, something I wished I had known about when I got married.


But the correct play for empaths in this app is for both to pick bail in case the other person decides to pick bail. But now they've bailed on something they both want to do, but were okay with not doing. Not even sure if this app had a "pick 1 to 10 how much you want to bail" it'd be able to address this


Hah. Interesting, hadn't considered that. I guess this doesn't solve the problem I mentioned.

There might be a $1b company in there if someone finds a generalized solution to this problem :)


You could sell the "flake metric" to advertisers.

It would be valuable information to say, used car salesmen.

They could look up a prospective customer wandering around the lot. If the customer asks for a test drive, check the "flake metric" and deny it for high flakers, who are probably just noncommittal tire-kickers.

:)


I know it's snark, =) but..

Like most data collection, this is far too sparse a dataset to ever be useful.


now that is a novel idea!


This reminds me of those apps that will call your phone so that you have an excuse to get out of a social interaction by pretending to have an emergency. Rather than, you know, being a grown-up and just telling the other person you have to cut things short for whatever reason.


I think you might be underestimating:

A) the number of degrees of discomfort between, "I can talk about this any time with no effort", and "I literally can't talk about this".

B) how normal it is for certain types of people to struggle with this kind of interaction in general.

On the first point, I am perfectly capable of being frank with friends. I am perfectly capable of telling them how I feel. And when I need to have confrontational conversations with friends, I do. But that's not the same thing as feeling no aversion or worry at all about disappointing someone. And if a crutch exists that mitigates part of that problem, I just don't see the harm in that crutch.

There are dozens of tiny, inessential affordances everyone gives themselves every day to help manage non-crippling problems. That's normal. It shouldn't be weird to anyone that people with even mild anxiety around friendships might want similar affordances. Sometimes it's not about necessity, people just want a tool that makes their life easier.

On the second note, I'm not going to go in depth here, but people who don't struggle with social anxiety usually don't understand how many other people do, or what their experiences are actually like. There's a pretty wide range of different annoyances or aversions that people can have about this stuff, and I really don't want to pretend to speak for other people. Some introverts don't struggle with this at all, some struggle in completely different areas.

I am speaking in very broad generalities. But I consider these to be very common situations for someone like me:

- going to an event I'd rather not just because I don't want to disappoint a friend or make them think I don't enjoy their company.

- actively not inviting a friend to an event because I'm worried they'd only come out of obligation and would resent that I asked.

- feeling like if I just express interest in changing plans a friend will accommodate me even though they had their heart set on something.

I'm not going to say people like me are a majority: we're definitely not. But we're not that rare. If you've never had even a casual acquaintance like me, you're not looking very hard.

> I can't imagine being friends with someone who is this incapable of communicating.

I realize this is somewhat blunt and a little uncharitable, and I don't mean it as an attack or as a character flaw -- but in the general spirit of being confrontational and open: when I hear this, my immediate thought is, "this person probably doesn't have many introverted friends, and they probably don't have many deep, honest relationships with the few introverted friends they do have."

Your perspective definitely isn't uncommon, and it shouldn't surprise me when I hear it, but I'm always surprised anyway. :) It's like seeing someone who lives in a completely different world, to the point where when they see the world I'm familiar with it's not just unexpected to them, but so unexpected that they think, "there must be something wrong with that."


Not the parent you're replying to, but I agree with their perspective for the most part.

I think absolutes are silly to use as arguments, and sure, there are certainly some people for whom it's really difficult to proactively cancel plans. Sometimes I'm that person. But I choose to suck it up and act like a human instead of (if I were to use this app) hiding behind a computer to let it do my dirty work for me. I certainly grant that there are some people who just can't do that sometimes, or even more often than sometimes.

It's hard to believe that there are enough people like that for an app. My feeling is that most people who use this would actually otherwise actively cancel plans, but will use the app instead just to be socially lazy or to avoid even a hint of confrontation, and the effect will be to lower the quality of social interaction between people overall.


When I say that you're underestimating the number of people who have these types of anxieties, I don't mean it in the way I might say, "you'd be surprised how many people have PTSD", or "more people than you think are homeless." What I mean is that there are a lot of completely normal people that you probably meet every single day who feel this way about social interactions.

The reason you find that hard to believe is not because those people are wildly uncommon or because they're hiding, but simply because you don't personally know how to recognize them, or that (ironically) you haven't been in a position yet where one of them talked to you that openly about their feelings.

What I'm trying to get across is that people like me are not aberrations, and our personality traits are not debilitating character flaws.

To try and get across how weird your perspective feels to me:

Imagine that one day you showed a friend Candy Crush, and their immediate reaction was, "but who would ever install this? Sure, occasionally even I get bored, but when I do I just sit silently and motionlessly like an adult. I don't need constant distractions."

Imagine trying to convince your friend that:

A) Installing Candy Crush doesn't actually mean that you have undiagnosed ADHD, and that

B) It's actually not that big a deal if people occasionally pull out an app to keep themselves from getting bored during long flights, or train rides -- that the fact that some people get bored sometimes is not a big societal problem that needs to be addressed by altering their personalities.

Phrases like this stick out to me,

> act like a human

because from my perspective, I'm not sure I can think of many things more human than caring a lot about other people's preferences, even occasionally to the point where I dismiss what I want to do. And I don't see how using an app to accommodate someone else makes that accommodation suddenly robotic.

I'm seeing a bunch of people on here who (as far as I can tell) have a view of introverted relationships like they're this completely impersonal thing that comes down to never wanting to see another person's face or deal with conflict in any way. And the reality is that of course introverted people have conversations and conflicts. In reality, what these relationships often look like is just friends accommodating each other a bunch and going out of their way to make each other feel comfortable via tiny, almost invisible gestures.

My proposal: in moderation, maybe that kind of relationship can be nice sometimes, and you don't have to be frightened that society will collapse if more people do that -- even if that involves using an occasional app?


> What I'm trying to get across is that people like me are not aberrations, and our personality traits are not debilitating character flaws.

If that's what you're trying to get across, I'll agree that we're common, and social anxiety isn't a character flaw.

However, your life and the lives of people around you will improve significantly if you take steps to deal with your social anxiety.

> I'm not sure I can think of many things more human than caring a lot about other people's preferences,

That's not what you're doing.

I prefer not to be lied to, and I think most people prefer not to be lied to, or would prefer not to be lied to if they understood how this sort of lying plays out.

I get it that you think that what you're doing benefits others: that's why I'm not saying you're a bad person. Motivation does matter. What I'm saying is that your belief that hiding your preferences from other people benefits them is false.


> I prefer not to be lied to

You're misunderstanding what the point of an app like this is. It's not to lie to friends, it's to get them to be more honest with me. If I tell a casual acquaintance that I'm not feeling great about an event, 99% of the time they will say it's not big deal and cancel. They will almost never tell me honestly whether or not they were excited about it and really wanted me to come anyway.

That tendency is not an introverted vs extroverted thing, it's just a thing everybody does. It's the same anomaly that makes it hard to choose a restaurant, because everyone just says, "oh, I don't care, lets do what the group wants."

What is an introverted thing is that I have a lot of experience with people going out of their way to accommodate me in ways that that mask the problem that they have needs I'm not meeting. I have a lot of experience with people feeling like I don't like them because I haven't talked to them in a while -- and not just doing the sensible thing and coming to me and saying, "hey, I wish you would call more." As a result, there will always be a small part of my brain thinking, "you're just saying this is not a big deal." There will always be a small part of my brain thinking, "is there some non-confrontational way I could get you to be more honest with me about your expectations in this friendship?"

The affordance here for me is being able to skip an awkward conversation where I try to convince someone else that I don't want the polite answer, I want to know whether or not they're disappointed. It's not so I can lie to friends, its so I can express my preferences without worrying that I'm being lied to.

Would it be better if no one, introverted or extroverted, ever hid what they wanted? Maybe, but I'm not convinced that's true. I could also sit down with all of my friends, one on one, and say, "you need to promise me that if I ask if it's OK to cancel, you will always tell me whether or not you're disappointed in me." I've done that with a few very close friends, but in general, I've found that kind of a conversation is a good way to creep out casual acquaintances.

Or maybe I should just change my personality to not care at all if I'm disappointing those people? I want to re-emphasize the idea that everyone hides preferences and insecurities all the time, that everyone has quirks, and that we all tolerate mild social lubricants that make friendships easier. Except when those lubricants are designed for introverts, in which case suddenly they're problematic.

The problem people have here is not that they think politeness is the same as lying -- otherwise all of these commenters would have already joined the radical honesty movement. The problem is that the particular kind of politeness this app is designed to facilitate and the particular kind of insecurity it's designed to ease doesn't code as normal to them.


> You're misunderstanding what the point of an app like this is. It's not to lie to friends, it's to get them to be more honest with me.

You're assuming that I don't understand this: I do understand it, I'm saying that this does not increase honesty in your relationship, it just enables social anxiety. Even if people are really honest through the app (and I'm not sure why you're assuming they will be), this is enabling the overall behavior of not communicating their preferences and needs. You're fixing one symptom but exacerbating a larger problem.

> If I tell a casual acquaintance that I'm not feeling great about an event, 99% of the time they will say it's not big deal and cancel. They will almost never tell me honestly whether or not they were excited about it and really wanted me to come anyway.

a) That may be true, but that's their choice, not yours.

b) That doesn't justify you not communicating your needs.

> That tendency is not an introverted vs extroverted thing, it's just a thing everybody does.

I agree that this isn't an introverted/extroverted thing, but it's absolutely not a thing I do, or that my close friends do. I've met people who do this, but failure to effectively communicate is going to be a major hindrance to our relationship becoming close.

> The affordance here for me is being able to skip an awkward conversation where I try to convince someone else that I don't want the polite answer, I want to know whether or not they're disappointed.

I understand that, and I'm saying this is not a desirable outcome. That sort of awkward conversation is absolutely fundamental to relationships becoming closer. If you can't say, "Hey, I'm not feeling psyched about hanging out today" or "Hey, just so you know, I won't be offended if you don't want to hang out, and I'd prefer to only hang out if you're feeling excited about it", those are the easy conversations. If you can't say those things, how are you going to say, "Hey, I'm really feeling insecure about what that girl said to me yesterday," or "Hey, what you just said kind of hurt my feelings". The answer is: you won't. Becoming close enough to have a deeply vulnerable conversation like that doesn't just happen ex nihilo, it grows out of having less important conversations that require just a little vulnerability.

> It's not so I can lie to friends, its so I can express my preferences without worrying that I'm being lied to.

But you're not expressing your preference to your friends. On the contrary, you're avoiding expressing your preferences to your friends, out of fear that they'll lie to you if you express your preferences.

> Would it be better if no one, introverted or extroverted, ever hid what they wanted? Maybe, but I'm not convinced that's true. Could I sit down with all of my friends, one on one, and say, "you need to promise me that if I ask if it's OK to cancel, you will always tell me whether or not you're disappointed in me." I've done that with a few very close friends, but in general, I've found that kind of a conversation is a good way to creep out casual acquaintances.

Well yeah, if you lead in with that, that's pretty intense.

It's also a pretty big assumption that everyone needs to be told to be honest with you.

> Or maybe I should just change my personality to not care at all if I'm disappointing those people?

No--I'm saying change your behavior to get the results you want. If you want close relationships where you can be open, honest, and vulnerable with each other, then starting off hiding something minor like this is not the way to get there.

> Again, I cycle back to this idea that everyone hides preferences and insecurities all the time, that everyone has quirks, and that we all tolerate mild social lubricants that make friendships easier.

Tolerating things is not the same as leaning into them so hard that you build an app around them.

Yes, people make mistakes, and we should allow for humans to be humans.

> Except when those lubricants are designed for introverts, in which case suddenly they're problematic.

Wait, I thought you said this wasn't an introvert/extrovert thing?

> The problem people have here is not that they think politeness is the same as lying -- otherwise all of these commenters would have already joined the radical honesty movement.

I try my best to be radically honest. :)

Whether I succeed, I dunno. I'm certainly more honest since I started trying.


What makes this difficult to get across is that there are relationships I have where I'd almost agree with you. There are people I'm friends with where we have, for lack of a better word, 'contracts' where we've promised to never lie to each other, even about trivial things and even if it's hurtful.

But in the same way that there are gradients of anxiety, there are also gradients of friendship. I do not need to be comfortable having difficult conversations with my coworkers. I can have difficult conversations with my coworkers if it's important, but there is no inherent virtue in forcing myself to go through that unpleasantness just so we can plan a board-game night.

Your view also discounts the extent that relationships develop over time. You do understand that immediate, radical honesty isn't how relationships work:

> Well yeah, if you lead in with that, that's pretty intense.

But you don't follow through with that thought to its natural conclusion. If I'm not going to lead with something like this, what you're essentially saying to me is, "you should be uncomfortable around our calendar until I feel comfortable having this conversation with you."

My understanding of your position is that if I don't force myself to feel safe talking about small things, I won't ever feel safe talking about big things. Frankly, I don't think that's a realistic or practical view of relationships, and I guarantee if you applied that standard equally to all of the other social graces you extend to everyone around you, you would not have many friends (deep or otherwise). I disagree that accommodating some behaviors necessarily means that relationships can't deepen over time.

Of course practicing vulnerability is important for relationships, but it is equally important to practice grace and care. If you show people you care about making them feel safe rather than pressing every issue, then they might eventually feel safe enough to trust you to be gentle when they're really insecure about something serious.

I've mentioned this elsewhere, but I deal with people who will get incredibly lonely or feel incredibly disliked if they're left alone for a long period of time. I'm curious, if I built a calendar app for my friends that reminded us every 3 or 4 days to call that person and catch up with them, would you say that's an unhealthy technological solution that's stunting the relationship?

My take on this kind of 'dishonesty' is that sometimes friends agree to handle each other's quirks and work around their specific issues rather than barreling through them head-on, and that doesn't mean they're avoiding responsibility or undermining the friendship. It just means they care about each other and want to meet each other's personalities halfway.

> Tolerating things is not the same as leaning into them so hard that you build an app around them.

I don't want to get too off-topic or dismissive, but I think this is a somewhat uncritical view of how modern relationships work among most 'normal' friends. We've built Tinder and designed blind dating apps to help people get around their social anxiety asking strangers for dates. People go to bars and drink substances designed specifically to bypass the restraint parts of their brain so they'll be less guarded with their friends. We've built apps like Facetime so that people who lack the ability to emotionally connect to written messages can get the visual and auditory signifiers they need to feel connected to other people. We build games that are designed to let people avoid boredom. We use online polls among friends to avoid conflicts around small decisions. We build bar-room trivia apps for people who have problems interacting with each other or picking conversation topics without 3rd-party intervention.

I pretty regularly go out of my way to build systems, use systems, and structure my life to accommodate behaviors that do not make sense to me, and I still manage to avoid thinking that every person with those behaviors is broken and needs to be fixed.


> > Well yeah, if you lead in with that, that's pretty intense.

> But you don't follow through with that thought to its natural conclusion. If I'm not going to lead with something like this, what you're essentially saying to me is, "you should be uncomfortable around our calendar until I feel comfortable having this conversation with you."

No, I'm saying that your uncomfortable-ness around this is irrational until you see some reason to believe the person will lie to you, and if you're close enough to recognize that someone is lying about wanting to hang out, then you're close enough to have that conversation.

Making this about concern for other people is just a foil to avoid looking at yourself. This isn't about them: it's about your social anxiety, not theirs.

> I'm curious, if I built a calendar app for my friends that reminded us every 3 or 4 days to call that person and catch up with them, would you say that's an unhealthy technological solution that's stunting the relationship?

No. I think that's a great way for you to deal with forgetfulness to achieve a kind goal.

The problem isn't technical solutions. The problem is that this technical solution doesn't solve the real problem, which is solvable, and instead enables it.

> I don't want to get too off-topic or dismissive, but I think this is a somewhat uncritical view of how modern relationships work among most 'normal' friends.

Again, "normal" isn't my goal.

> We've built Tinder and designed blind dating apps to help people get around their social anxiety asking strangers for dates.

And while that has worked out for some people, I think you'd have a hard time arguing that it has actually empowered people to ask strangers for dates, or more importantly, to create meaningful connections.

> People go to bars and drink substances designed specifically to bypass the restraint parts of their brain so they'll be less guarded with their friends.

And while that works for some people, I think you'd have a hard time arguing that it actually results in positive, deep relationships. While deep relationships might involve some alcohol, the reasons they are deep aren't based in drinking together from my experience.

> We've built apps like Facetime so that people who lack the ability to emotionally connect to written messages can get the visual and auditory signifiers they need to feel connected to other people.

Yes, and that helps bridge the gap when face to face interactions are not possible--I'd view this as a positive thing. But it also can't fully close the gap with relationships where touch is important.

> We use online polls among friends to avoid conflicts around small decisions.

Do we? I've never even seen this, and probably just wouldn't respond if a friend spammed me with a link to some poll site. If people do this, I'm pretty sure it would be ineffective for that goal.

> We build bar-room trivia apps for people who have problems interacting with each other or picking conversation topics without 3rd-party intervention.

Trivia games are a way more complicated topic that fulfills a lot of human needs. I don't think (after doing a lot of work) that I have a hard time interacting or picking conversations, but I'd still be down for trivia for a lot of reasons unrelated to this.

I'm going to reiterate that a lot of the things you're attributing as solutions to social anxiety, would be better addressed by actually seeking help for social anxiety.


> I think that's a great way for you to deal with forgetfulness to achieve a kind goal.

Surely, a much kinder goal would be to help that person deal with their anxiety around being abandoned? /s

> that helps bridge the gap when face to face interactions are not possible

Wouldn't those people be better served by seeking help for their inability to emotionally connect to others without visual cues? /s

> But it also can't fully close the gap with relationships where touch is important.

In a global society where you will almost definitely be required to maintain long-distance relationships at some point, isn't the reliance on touch for emotional connection the actual problem to solve? /s

With the examples I brought up, I wasn't trying to get your opinion on specific technological solutions; I was trying to point out that many interpersonal needs are not, strictly speaking, rational. Human beings aren't rational, and in many cases we're both fine with building systems to accommodate that.

> I'm going to reiterate that a lot of the things you're attributing as solutions to social anxiety, would be better addressed by actually seeking help for social anxiety.

You can say this about literally any irrational human behavior. Some of the behaviors I describe above are weird to me. It is weird to me that people feel like they're abandoned if they haven't spoken to anyone else for 3 days. I don't see how that person's insecurity is fundamentally different than anyone else's insecurity about overburdening friends. And while I admit some anxieties are so severe that they can become a real problem, in general when I meet people with anxieties that are weird to me, I just try to accommodate them. I don't usually refer them to specialists.

A bias towards normalcy means treating common insecurities as fundamental and essential parts of being human, while simultaneously treating less socially acceptable insecurities as problems to be solved.


Ugh. I don't think you're trying to understand my side of things any more, you're just trying to be right. All your "/s" bits are just straw man arguments which have nothing to do with what I've said.

> Surely, a much kinder goal would be to help that person deal with their anxiety around being abandoned? /s

Sure, it would be nice, but their anxiety is their responsibility: you're not obligated to.

> Wouldn't those people be better served by seeking help for their inability to emotionally connect to others without visual cues? /s

Well, these people are already emotionally connected, or they wouldn't care that they can't see the person. They'd be best served probably by being colocated with the people they care about, but that's not always possible realistically.

> In a global society where you will almost definitely be required to maintain long-distance relationships at some point, isn't the reliance on touch for emotional connection the actual problem to solve? /s

Perhaps, but good luck rewriting a few million years of evolution. It would be better to focus on solutions that are actually possible.

> With the examples I brought up, I wasn't trying to get your opinion on specific technological solutions; I was trying to point out that many interpersonal needs are not, strictly speaking, rational. Human beings aren't rational, and in many cases we're both fine with building systems to accommodate that.

Sure. But we should build systems that actually try to fix the problem, instead of enabling it.

If you want to fix people's social anxiety, a good solution would be to educate people on social anxiety, create better educational materials, fund research, and make help available to people.

What you're arguing for is essentially like giving a wheelchair for a person who is paralyzed by a curable, reversible disease. Sure, we have the technology and it would improve one small aspect of their life, but why would we not just encourage them to seek treatment?

> > I'm going to reiterate that a lot of the things you're attributing as solutions to social anxiety, would be better addressed by actually seeking help for social anxiety.

> You can say this about literally any irrational human behavior.

No, you can't. That's nonsense. We don't have tools to address every irrational human behavior. We do have tools to address social anxiety for individuals who decide to work on it.

> Some of the behaviors I describe above are weird to me. It is weird to me that people feel like they're abandoned if they haven't spoken to anyone else for 3 days.

I don't think it's weird. I also don't care about things being weird/normal, and I'm really not sure why you're bringing it up.

> I don't see how that person's insecurity is fundamentally different than anyone else's insecurity about overburdening friends.

I don't see how it's fundamentally different either. It seems like both people could benefit from working on their social anxiety.

> And while I admit some anxieties are so severe that they can become a real problem, in general when I meet people with anxieties that are weird to me, I just try to accommodate them. I don't usually refer them to specialists.

Sure, you're not obligated to help people.

> A bias towards normalcy means treating common insecurities as fundamental and essential parts of being human, while simultaneously treating less socially acceptable insecurities as problems to be solved.

No, this is not what I'm saying: if anything I'm biased against normalcy because it's boring.

I AM NOT saying people with social anxiety should seek help for their social anxiety because it's weird: I don't really think it's weird.

I AM saying people with social anxiety should seek help for their social anxiety because it would improve their own enjoyment of their lives.


I think there are limits, though, to caring about people's preferences. To me, dealing with people who make me jump through hoops to successfully communicate with them is an incredibly draining, patience-testing, tedious activity. For some people it's worth it, and for others it's not; I've definitely reduced my level of interaction with some people due to this.

I used to be very introverted and shy, and I still hate doing things like answering the phone or talking in person to people I don't know (and I still work on improving there). But I've learned that communicating with the people around me who care about me (and vice versa) is nothing to be anxious about. It's taken literally decades for me to get here (I now consider myself a somewhat-shy extrovert), but I do feel that my life is better having (mostly) left that anxiety behind. I don't see this as some "personal preference" type of thing; I mean, social anxiety disorder is, well, actually a disorder listed in the DSM.

Your analogy about Candy Crush doesn't really speak to me, because I absolutely agree that there's nothing wrong with killing time with a silly game when you're in a situation where you have to wait (with the exception of games that deliberately and maliciously hook into addictive tendencies). But I do think that an inability/aversion/anxiety around basic communication between friends is actually a problem. I'm not saying that people who have these issues are bad people or anything like that, but I would hope that people with those issues actually view them as issues, and not just a "style of communication" or whatever.

Beyond that, one possibility is that this app just won't gain much traction, and it'll either fail or find a small niche. Otherwise, I just don't see this as something that people will use in moderation. I feel like the people who do genuinely need it (due to introversion or social anxiety or something like that) will use it frequently, and will end up bailing on more activities than they would have otherwise (which sometimes will be good and sometimes will be bad). And I think other people, who don't really have introversion issues, will use it as a way to make rude flakiness easier to justify, and have a normalizing effect on that kind of behavior.


Arguably, some people don't use Candy Crush in moderation, and that also carries very unhealthy side-effects. Again, I would come back to this point that there are gradients between "never talk to people", and "become an extrovert". People understand that gradient when it comes to subjects like boredom and Candy Crush, many people don't understand that about what are essentially just social lubricants for introverts.

So yes, I can see a world where someone uses an app or system like this to avoid conflict to an unhealthy degree. And to be clear, a friend that refuses to meet your extroversion halfway or that demands that you jump through excessive hoops to interact with them is a bad friend, period. But I really disagree that the potential for that kind of abuse means that introversion is somehow a problem. I don't see a difference between boredom and small-scale social anxiety.

There is a well-meaning kind of person that I will occasionally run into that is very interested in getting rid of personality traits I have that they consider problematic. And often I find myself eventually tolerating more quirks in them than they will tolerate in me.

Friendship is, in part, about people accommodating for each other and helping each other -- that's the part that makes friendship special. So I provide affordances for people who get incredibly lonely if I haven't spoken to them in a week, because I recognize they can't just 'act like an adult' and take it at face value that I haven't abandoned them. I provide affordances for people by adjusting my body language, how I talk to them, and where I look while I'm talking to them, because I recognize that some extroverts have trouble emotionally connecting to other people without a lot of extra signals of affirmation. In the same way, I make affordances for people by calling them instead of texting them, because some people place more emotional importance than I do on hearing a voice.

All of this is, to be blunt, crazy. It's just that some people have a random chunk of their brain constantly making them feel anxiety over the fictional idea that "I love you" means more when it's heard in someone's voice then when it's written on a piece of paper.

But generally, we don't describe those people as having a problem. It's not a problem that they have a section of their brains that says, "if someone doesn't make small talk, then that means they're being confrontational or angry." But it is a problem for some reason that I have a section of my brain that says, "if you ask someone for a favor, maybe they didn't actually want to do it, and maybe they might lie about their preferences." And I do kind of regard that as a double standard, because when I accommodate extroverted behavior, I just feel happy to help my friends -- I'm not thinking in the back of my mind, "that person should see a specialist."

I dunno. Every day, everyone here tolerates tons of personality quirks that seem to me to be way, way more crazy, and way more debilitating, and way more problematic for society than something as trivial as being anxious about disappointing friends if a movie night gets canceled.

Any personality trait or quirk, if taken to the extreme, will become a disorder. What is different about introversion that means it's dangerous to accommodate it?


> A) the number of degrees of discomfort between, "I can talk about this any time with no effort", and "I literally can't talk about this".

I don't think I'm underestimating it, I just don't see any of these degrees of discomfort as justification for my friends not telling me their preferences when they're relevant to me.

> B) how normal it is for certain types of people to struggle with this kind of interaction in general.

I think you're making some pretty big assumptions about my experience in an attempt to explain our differences in worldview.

Social anxiety is normal/common. But being "normal" is not a goal I have, nor is it a goal I think other people should have. The fact that it's normal/common has turned it from a personal problem some people have, to a social problem that most people have to deal with even if they don't have social anxiety themselves.

The fact that it's normal/common doesn't mean we should just accept it as inevitable. This is a fixable problem.

To be clear, I myself have struggled with social anxiety a lot. I'm not saying people are bad people because they have social anxiety--I'm saying they should address their social anxiety. This isn't some moral/ethical "should", it's something they should do because it would benefit them and everyone they come in contact with.

For what it's worth, I wish I had addressed my social anxiety sooner. Working on my social anxiety has been some of the most beneficial work I've ever done on myself, and I've seen similar trends with my friends who have worked through their social anxiety.

> I realize this is somewhat blunt and a little uncharitable, and I don't mean it as an attack or as a character flaw -- but in the general spirit of being confrontational and open: when I hear this, my immediate thought is, "this person probably doesn't have many introverted friends, and they probably don't have many deep, honest relationships with the few introverted friends they do have."

On the contrary:

1. I'm an extrovert, but I tend to make friends with introverts, and I tend to have <10 deep friendships and almost no acquaintances.

2. I think you're equating introversion with social anxiety, and they are not equivalent. There are introverts without social anxiety, and and extroverts with social anxiety (I am in the latter camp, though my social anxiety is probably 90% fixed at this point). Extroversion/introversion is just a statement about how much social interaction you prefer, it doesn't inherently mean you'll have any anxiety about stating those preferences.


You're right to call me out on the fact that both introverts and extroverts are not a unified category. Very few people are purely introverted or purely extroverted, and there is no singular set of traits that anyone in that category shares. You're completely right.

I use 'introvert' and 'extrovert' out of lack of a better word, because the connotations you have around 'anxiety' are also not representative of everyone who might want to use this app. But again, you're correct to point out that this is a very broad, kind of incorrect generalization.

However, I do still believe that if you genuinely can't imagine being friends with someone who would want this app, you are in a bubble. If you genuinely can't imagine friends with deep, meaningful relationships using something like this, you are in a bubble. To take that a step further, while it's completely feasible that none of your friends fall into this category, I would very cautiously advise asking them -- because it's also feasible that some of them do relate and just haven't ever talked to you about it.

On that note, if this app idea creeps you out, please allow me to creep you out a lot more. ;)

When I was in college, a friend and I came very close to setting up a system I could use to ask them for favors. The plan was, I would send an email asking for the favor, and based on how much I needed it, a system would be given a 0-50% chance of not delivering the email. That way, if the email was delivered and the friend didn't want to do the favor, they could delete it without worrying quite as much about my reaction. And if I didn't hear a reply, I would be less tempted to read into that.

I don't think we ultimately followed through (the payoff wasn't worth the technical work it would have taken to build), but there were a lot of policies like this -- there were a lot of systems that allowed us to gel, and that allowed us to cut through issues that would have made it more difficult for us to connect.

Now, you could reasonably assume that the dynamics I describe above would contribute to a pretty messed up, fragile relationship, but to this day, I would consider that person to be the closest friend I've ever had, and I think they understand me as a person on a different level than almost anyone else I know. Far from being unable to communicate, there were a number of topics and conversations that (at the time) I felt like I could only have with that friend.

I can't speak to your experiences, I can't speak to your personal needs as an individual, I can't tell you what's healthy for you. I can just say that when you imagine that people working around anxiety can't have deep friendships, you're wrong. There's a dimension to these relationships that you don't understand.


> However, I do still believe that if you genuinely can't imagine being friends with someone who would want this app, you are in a bubble. If you genuinely can't imagine friends with deep, meaningful relationships using something like this, you are in a bubble. To take that a step further, while it's completely feasible that none of your friends fall into this category, I would very cautiously advise asking them -- because it's also feasible that some of them do relate and just haven't ever talked to you about it.

Dude, no. I don't need to talk to my friends to find people who can relate to wanting to use an app like this, because I can relate to wanting to use an app like this. You're not the only person with social anxiety in this conversation.

The difference, here, is that I've spent a lot of time working on fixing my social anxiety, and recognize wanting to use an app like this as the voice of my social anxiety, rather than a solution to it.

> On that note, if this app idea creeps you out, please allow me to creep you out a lot more. ;)

It doesn't creep me out.

> Now, you could reasonably assume that the dynamics I describe above would contribute to a pretty messed up, fragile relationship, but to this day, I would consider that person to be the closest friend I've ever had, and I think they understand me as a person on a different level than almost anyone else I know. Far from being unable to communicate, there were a number of topics and conversations that (at the time) I felt like I could only have with that friend.

No, I don't think that leads to a messed up friendship. I think, from the sound of it, that in a very socially anxious way, the two of you were communicating your fear about the friendship to each other: you, your fear of asking favors, and him his fear of saying no. That's vulnerable honesty, the opposite of the app you were building, and of course that would lead to a closer friendship.

But don't you see the irrationality of your email idea? If this is a person you can share your deep, vulnerable feelings with and he doesn't reject you, wouldn't it also be rational that he'd be a person you can ask a favor of?

You are a human, who, because you are a human, deserve to take up space in the lives of the people around you. You deserve to ask for favors. You deserve to not fear that people are just lying about being okay with doing favors. You deserve to spend time with people. You deserve to not fear that people aren't actually enjoying spending time with you.


> because I can relate to wanting to use an app like this.

Sure, you can relate from the perspective of someone who's said they had crippling anxiety that needed to be dealt with. With respect, you are not the best person to evaluate whether everyone else's anxieties are in the same league as yours. You are coming at this from the perspective that social anxiety is a problem that needs to be solved. In some cases, I agree. In other cases, I don't.

The part of this that you don't understand is not what it feels like to be anxious. The part you don't understand is what it feels like to feel OK about feeling anxious -- that there are people in this position that don't want or need to be changed. You don't understand their perspective.

In your very first comment, you write:

> I can't imagine being friends with someone who is this incapable of communicating.

That sentence is your bubble. I can trivially imagine being friends with someone like that. And more to the point, I can imagine enjoying being friends with that person. I have intimate experience with being friends with people in this category, and I like nearly all of them.

Your take on my email example emphasizes one specific part of friendship: being vulnerable. But in your focus on that particular element, you are missing the broader principle that makes me value this particular friendship so much: that my friend and I genuinely like each other's personalities, warts and all. When we built systems to accommodate each other, we were not sharing our fears -- we were expressing to each other that we were worth accommodating.

Of course, I try to improve my personality when possible. But my relationship with myself is not hostile. There are vulnerabilities and fears I have that I am OK with having, because they are the natural consequences of parts of my personality that I consider to be strengths. When my friends accommodate them, it doesn't make me feel robotic or weaken those relationships. It just makes me feel like my friends care about me.


I think it's quite funny, and you're taking it a little too serious.


Some folks I knew who rented an apartment in East Village to do their own startup had this exact same idea with this exact same name back in '14. I don't think they lasted very long with it and all ended up getting jobs, but this did at least make me check if this was the same folks.

Edit: That said, I would pay to use this if it were done well and if I could get all my friends to use it.


I wonder who bailed first?


Did they use the app? Talk about dogfooding...


Yea, they had an entry "work on startup" in it and realized all the founders had chosen to bail so the project got canceled


Yeah, a number of people have suggested that similar things have been proposed but have never got off the ground.


There was a similar app for Facebook too where the app remained quiet unless you were both interested in having sex with each other and then it would send notifications to the two people.


We need an indexed and searchable startup graveyard to prevent this problem in the future.


I would nearly set something ad driven up to to do this just to see how long I could last before getting sucked in to my on graveyard.


This is a little bit sad and a little bit scary. Have we reached the point where we now prefer to avoid actual communications with our "friends" that this exists? It's up there with people who won't answer phone calls and only want to text.


That's not the reason.

Telling a friend you want to cancel is hard, and depressing, and so you oftentimes go just to not bail on them. And hate it.

But what if your friend is feeling the same way? What if you both want to cancel, but neither of you wants to hurt the other person.

Well, with something like this, you can bail without letting them down; they only know you wanted to bail -if they also want to bail-. That's the key bit.


Or you could be adults and talk to each other. Telling a friend you want to cancel is usually hard because you haven't practiced setting boundaries.

This app doesn't help. It just postpones the problem until you meet somebody who doesn't need the app, except now you're even further behind in practicing that skill.

I get the desire to automate interactions. I really do. I have days where I really would rather not see people at all. But it doesn't work. In the very best case, if it works as designed, it deprives you further of human interactions, making it even harder outside of the app context to interact.


Also, parent post laments that they may go out with a friend even if they hate it.

Sheesh, if you're going to go out with me, your friend, just to be nice yet hate it, stay home. Have some respect for both of us and just cancel.


Maybe its a cultural thing. Around here we grow up and learn to state our preferences honestly and understanding its not hurtful to be truthful but rather the opposite. Weaseling about is something you correct small children on.


Does that extend to backing out of a social engagement at very short notice, simply because you no longer feel like it, without fear of causing offense? I think a lot of people make plans with friends in all sincerity, but sometimes end up feeling tired or socially burned out whatever, and wish they had left the time free but would feel unfriendly canceling at the last minute without a stronger reason.

edit: also, I think sometimes preferences are kind of fuzzy. Like, maybe I have no social energy and feel like staying in, so I'll only follow through out of a sense of obligation -- but there's a decent chance the social contact will actually energise me and be enjoyable once I snap out of my funk. So maybe the social pressure is good for me up to a point -- but if my friend is feeling the same as me, maybe we'd both be better off taking the night off and seeing each other next time.


Here is it seen as part of becoming an adult that you know your limit and don't overpromise. If you know you've had a full schedule already this week, and that you really need your friday-night on the couch, then you'd simply not set up anything that evening and ask if next week is also possible.

And if you really need to back out because of course nobody is always perfectly estimating their energy levels, you simply say it like it is: I'm tired, let's reschedule for some other time.

Respect is shown by not wasting other peoples time. Don't act, if we are really friends I'll see through you anyway, and I also respect that you really are tired and cannot come.


Social commitments are called that because they are exactly that: commitments. You promised to your friends you'll show so you just show. If you never flake you don't have to waste precious brain cycles agonizing on whether to cancel.

Do you want to be a flake and do you want others to think of you as a flake? If not, just keep your social commitments. Pretty basic stuff.


Which is the point of this app, right? You don't want to let down your friend, so you're not going to cancel in the normal way; but in the case where the commitment no longer really suits either of you, it would be nice to take a night off, rather than both show up because you think it matters to the other person.


I want to be wherever you are! Here, you make up a plausible-sounding excuse, and it's up to the other person to guess whether you're just being polite or not, based on whether you've made so many excuses that it's statistically improbable that they are the truth.


I won't say nobody ever engineers an excuse (not even me ;)), but personally I feel better by just being truthful about it, I've never had a bad response to that. And I never give anyone a bad time about them cancelling either. Also, I just try to not plan too much anyway, because I know by now I need a certain amount of downtime, seems like it may be a bit more than most.

We're all human, and we all need downtime, no shame or guilt in admitting that.


There's an argument to be made that learning to have hard conversations with friends/family is a useful skill, and also builds closeness and trust over time.


Technology is not the answer to this problem. If I had this issue, I think the underlying issue would be confidence and the ability to communicate.


Are you sure you call that person a friend when you both hate what you do together?


> Telling a friend you want to cancel is hard, and depressing, and so you oftentimes go just to not bail on them. And hate it.

Holy cow, just how disempowered are people that they can't be honest with their friends?

OMG, I don't want to eat at McDonald's today, but what if Marco gets super disappointed that I won't meet him at McDonald's and eat fries with him! He'll be so depressed. I'm so depressed! .... I really hope he bails before I do.

As I've mentioned elsewhere in this thread, I don't think that products like this help anyone. It might seem harmless, and maybe it will be, but only if few end up using it. Otherwise, it's not going to help people expand their social abilities, their sense of self value, etc.

A friendship based on withheld communication is dysfunctional.


I agree, this app is dumb.

But what's up with getting mad when people don't want to talk on the phone? I don't want to assume but it sounds like you feel entitled to a certain method of communication .


No I didn’t say I was mad. More and more my friends don’t want to chat on the phone at all, which ironically we’ve talked about on discord or on the phone. It’s not the subject matter (just chatting about their day or what’s new in their life) but the ratchet of the ability to have complete control of our time responding to texts when it is most convenient for us but forgoing some human connection of hearing a voice. And I think it’s that way across society and I think it’s a little bit sad and a little bit scary.

I’m not on Facebook so maybe the portal screens are getting traction and things will tip back toward a human element with video.


The service exists, that doesn’t mean there is a demand or a need for it.



Yep, making no attempt to claim this idea as my own. But just saw it had huge traction


I thought this was going to be a service to schedule robocalls to your phone:

Robocaller: "Hello is this $FIRST_NAME $LAST_NAME?"

Happy customer acting surprised: "Why yes it is. May I ask who is calling at such an hour? I'm hanging out with my friends."

Robocaller: "Yes this is $AUTHORITY. We need you to do $MANDATORY_TASK immediately.

Happy customer acting surprised: "Oh my! Okay, I'll be there soon."

Happy customer to friends: "Guys, this is so crazy, but I've got to run!"

Then you leave the party or whatever. Side-effects: you can't sleep at night because you're thinking about how weird you are.


I'd pay for that just for the lulz


Haha, this is a hilarious idea. I love it.

Clearly this is to combat https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluralistic_ignorance on the two-person level[0] which is utterly reasonable considering the phenomenon is widespread no matter how much people like to talk about their ability to be socially able to handle interactions.

My objection is that it may make it too easy to get what I want momentarily, i.e. I want to place high activation energy constraints on exiting because in the period leading up to the event, there will be many moments where I dip below my threshold of excitement for the event. However, since activation energy to set up the event is high because of natural constraints (I have to make sure everyone is available, that the event is available, that the venue is available), this means that if I lower the threshold to exit, I will bias strongly towards exiting.

Given that, I consciously hard commit myself to events. Post making this choice I have a far more active social life. This is why I won't use your app. It's because it actually does make a thing easy, but I don't want it to be easy.

Love that you used Netlify to knock it out, though. How did you enjoy the experience of developing it?

0: Really, this is exactly the Abilene Paradox https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abilene_paradox


Looks interesting, but would really require some velocity. There's the social problem of requesting others to install the app by an individual. I'm not gonna ask my friends to install bail just in case they'd like to cancel, because I might want to cancel.


This concept is begging for integrations into existing calendar apps, not being an app itself.


Might be absolutely right about this - thanks for the feedback. Will probably start with a google integration in the first instance. As you can probably tell, this concept is still in its infancy


I'm leaning towards a setup where its a calendar integration where you and your friend may have no idea if the other even has the app installed.


Since "I'm not going to ask my friends if they have Bail installed, and presumably Bail needs to know an event on their side and my side is the same event" was my first thought on reading this concept, calendar integration seems practical.

However, I have an issue right following that idea: I rarely ever send calendar invites to social events. In the example on the site, "Drinks after work", that's an event I cannot possibly imagine sending as a calendar invite for, so it's baffling to me how I could Bail it.


To the developer: kudos. Ignore the naysayers. Why build this — why the f* not? It's not like there are apps out there that do the same. And adding another way to interact with people is fun.

That's not to mention it might help people with anxiety. Sure, it's not a silver bullet. I don't know if I'd really use it. But it's novel, and why not.

Now, there's a real problem with this app, and it's that it's a feature turned into a product.

It's a problem because:

1) Bail is not a Google Calendar / Facebook Events replacement, which is what people use to schedule things, AND

2) It would be a great feature in both of these products. If it ever gets implemented, Bail is instantly obsolete.

Again, kudos to you! But as a user, I hope the calendar software I use gets this functionality, and I won't have to introduce anyone to yet another app.

It's not at all a problem unless you're betting everything on this app. Who knows where this will bring you though. Best of luck!


> To the developer: kudos. Ignore the naysayers. Why build this — why the f* not? It's not like there are apps out there that do the same. And adding another way to interact with people is fun.

Because some people have the moral compass to think about the consequences of the applications they build.

The world doesn't need more crutches for people who can't communicate in such a basic way.

Think about it; if you don't want to do something with someone or are unable, you owe it to both yourself and the other person to speak your opinion. Waiting for the other person to bail first is a lack of communication. This isn't going to help people who have communication problems. It can only make their disability worse, or cause them to resort to being friends with others with the same disability, which can prevent them from overcoming it.

Personally, I'd lose respect for someone who tried to use this "feature".


It's basically solving a version of the prisoners dilemma by giving both parties a filtered communication channel to signal cooperation.


If anyone winds up using this consistently with friends (which they won't), it's likely they'll just see a continually increasing number of aborted events, due to the removal of a barrier.

It's good that a cancelling party feels some shame. It keeps humans from letting their short-term avoidance always overcome the communal and long-term benefits of some kind of sacrifice.


Hi, I created a quick landing page to validate an idea for an app.

I'll be honest, the idea isn't mine. I saw it suggested in a Twitter post which had huge traction, and decided to run with it.

At the moment I'm just trying to refine the concept and get an idea of whether there really is space for something like this out there


Please don't submit such things as Show HNs. It's explicitly not what that is for: https://news.ycombinator.com/showhn.html.


How do you get people to use it?

Like let's say I have drinks plans with my friend, and I want to bail using this service. How to I tell her to install the app?

Wouldn't asking her to install it be pretty rude? It would basically be saying "Hey, FYI I like to bail on stuff a lot. So you probably shouldn't make any plans involving me."

I could see that stigma as a critical roadblock against growing the kind of user-base you'd need for this to get popular.


Do people send calendar invites when hanging out with friends?

Personally, if a meetup did actually make it into my calendar, I would not ship it to a friend.


I did wonder that. Personally, I put social events in my calendar but don't specifically invite the other people to it. I'm still validating the concept, but am initially leaning towards this being more of an integration with calendar services, particularly facebook where people probably do have common invites


I've only used FB events among friends for big events (Lets all go to Vegas!) and even then most of the coordination happens in a chat group.


> Do people send calendar invites when hanging out with friends?

I've literally never had that happen, personally. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen, though.


i saw the tweet as well. if you want some help designing and researching UX and flows, let me know.


This is like Bang With Friends. Whatever happened to that thing? https://www.businessinsider.com/bang-with-friends-co-founder...

Maybe it should be called Bail With Friends.


I like Bail On Friends better, in part because it partially increases the guilt factor back to where it should be.

"I'm gonna have to bail" vs "I'm gonna have to bail _on you_" feels different to me


Use a capital I just to make it parse weirder.


It would be pretty depressing if you got "You're off the hook" messages every time you hit bail. That means, most of your "friends" were looking to get out of the plans they made with you.


Where I come from, it's common practice to follow-up before an event in an effort to give the other person an out. I.e., "are we still up for lunch tomorrow?"

Do other people not do this?


It's situation dependent for me. If I've made plans with a friend to grab lunch/dinner/drinks on a particular day, we often won't decide on a location until less than 24 hours beforehand. So in that case, I'll usually open with "Hey, are we still on for lunch? Where should we go?" Even if a location is already set up, if the plans were made more than a few days in advance, I'll likely confirm.

But if I've made plans with someone for only a few days in the future, and we've already picked a location/activity, I'll assume they'll be there unless they reach out to cancel.


Not where I'm from. If the other person agrees to be somewhere at a certain time, I assume they're going to be there unless I hear otherwise.


I wouldn't like a friend which is incapable of communicating.

I can't look at this and consider it interesting, it's not only enabling a toxic behavior, it's encouraging it. I'm actually disgusted by this.

I'm glad I see other people with the same perspective in the comment section as the fact that someone thought about this, thought it's a good idea and implemented it is terrifying.

What happened to "Hey, I don't feel like doing this tonight, let's postpone it?"


i applaud the lean methodology. minimal detail, free-tier hosted contact form. throw it out on HN and a few other sites (i've not looked, just assume) and check the your conversions per channel in a day or two. HN is a great place to see what tech-leaning people think of stuff (even if it can get a bit sideways at times) and get some free unsolicited advice on everything from implementation patterns to prior art to the occasionally valuable feature idea.


Are we getting yelped?


I don’t think the developer even thinks this will ever work.

To begin with - this means that both parties must register their event on the service when making the original plan. (How else would you later manage what to bail on and who that affects)

Can you imagine anyone actually doing that? If you are someone who makes such flaky plans constantly, you aren’t also someone who will think ahead like this.

To be honest reading the comments that treat this as something other than an obvious dead end is scary.


Off topic, but OP if you need a guide to help you get off netlify and host your service through a remote server (e.g. a DO Droplet) check out this guide I recently wrote

https://medium.com/@reid.sherman/deploying-and-configuring-a...


I feel like whatever social awkwardness situation this "solves" ... it just doesn't solve it.

Folks are bound to just hit that button all the time just to find out what happens ... and still be bothered that the other person did too.

Nobody cares just that someone else doesn't want to do something... they care / wonder about why they don't want to do it. You figure that out by talking.


If I feel like I can't ask my friend "are you really up for doing this?", then they aren't actually a friend...


One problem I can see is this: If I was the one who made the plan in the first place, I could hit the "Bail" button just to see whether my friend secretly wanted to bail and then I could call them up on it... This would result in things being more awkward than just having a frank conversation in the first place!



I've also seen a similar one about wanting to get out of your marriage. Some people have questioned the antisocial aspect of the concept, but at least its more light hearted than that...


“ Bail is still being built, and will be available very soon, on iOS, Android and online.”

I have a feeling that OP hasn’t started working on anything, and is using this to prove that there’s a market for it. Sneaky, but good for you!


Next up, an AI to send you friendly texts, because you have no real friends.


Pretty sure this already exists


How exciting! I can't wait for next brilliant idea. Maybe... "notify your friends when you're thirsty via click of a button! Subscribe now, only $4.99 a month!"


Is my action of “bailing” transparent to the other party? Via (re)prompting my friend with a notification or something where they might be able to guess I was trying to get out?


The idea is that if you bail and they don't, they'll never find out and your plans will remain uncancelled.

But if you both decide you no longer want to meet up, you no longer have to, and nobody gets offended


> you no longer have to, and nobody gets offended

I don't know... I'd be offended that my friend couldn't just tell me directly. But I guess if I'm using the app as well... but doesn't that call into question the nature of the relationship?


This could leak information to the other party if bailing is still available during the event. By trying to bail myself after you show up I could "prove" you really didn't want to be here after all.


Similar to the problem with the 'secret crush' version of the same idea -- people can insincerely tick every box, simply to see which of their friends has a crush on them. I guess the same caveat applies: only use this app with people you trust. (Of course, some would say that if you really trust each other you don't need this app; but I don't know, I can see a use case for those situations where your plans have become inconvenient, but not sufficiently inconvenient to back out at short notice without seeming rude. I wouldn't use it myself but I don't even use a calendar app.)


I'm a little confused. Do you have to make the plans in the first place using an app called "Bail"?

If so I imagine the non-bail rate will be extremely extremely low.


How on earth am I supposed to get my friends to use this without implicitly saying “hey I kinda want to bail on this thing” by telling them to use this?


I think the name would be better applied to an app for crowdfunding conditional releases from gaol pending trial.


There was an app on Shark Tank that was this, but for timing your hook up with your preferred sexual partner


it's weird to see social anxiety as a "popular" thing in culture now. Is it a humble brag as an easy way to have social-proof of having plans and people who want to hang out with the them, while not having to "document" that they actually do?


younger generations are losing the ability/will to communicate decisively in uncomfortable social situations, can't see any positive long-term effects here


This is the most San Francisco thing ever.


Someone once noted that there were a whole series of various startup ideas and products that could be covered by "things 20 something engineers wish their mom would still do for them".

I feel like this one is "Mom I don't want to meet up with Sarah today, can you tell her mom that I have a doctor's appointment?"


It's remarkable how much of the criticism aimed at SV can be summed up as:

# they're 20-something.

# they're white.

# they're male.

# and this is low status.


The criticism was about the products / services.


The criticism is that it is made by and caters to low status people.


Big companies maybe...




Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: