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  • Ben Harrold

How to Get Out of Social Commitments During a Pandemic

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the past few years mastering the art of weaseling your way out of spending time with your friends. Whether you’re having car problems, you have to wake up early in the morning, or you’ve just got too much work to do, there’s nothing that can stop you from avoiding spending time with the people you care about. Unfortunately for us all the world has changed. Science tells us that social interaction is important and our friends are becoming more and more creative in obtaining it. I’ve been to virtual game nights, drive-by birthday parties, and weird 6-foot apart walks in the park.

Here’s the problem: none of my old excuses hold up anymore! Catching up with friends over Zoom isn’t great enough of a time-suck to invoke how busy I am. I can’t say “no” to a masked social gathering after complaining how bored I was during quarantine. My friends are incessantly trying to tear me away from the guilty comfort of my solitude. If you have the same problem, I’m here to share with all you fellow introverts some tips for getting out of your social commitments during these unprecedented times.

In-person events:

These are by far the easiest commitments to shirk. My go-to reply to an invitation is something along the lines of “I just don’t want to risk it.” I mean, this is the freaking gold-standard. Who can argue with that? Your friends might say something about how they’ve been really safe or everyone will be distanced and wearing masks but, come on, they can’t really argue with you without being a dick.

This response isn’t foolproof, though. Maybe you’ve previously let slip to this friend that you’re not worried about getting the virus or they know you’ve been to similar events in the past. There are two possibilities here. First, you could say that you’re planning on visiting an older family member or someone at-risk soon and you need to self-isolate for two weeks beforehand. This will be seen as responsible and you might even score some sympathy points for willingly spending time with your parents.

Another option is to tell them that you recently came in contact with someone who might have the virus. Even better, tell them that you’ve been feeling feverish. Just indicate that you might be sick and your friends will backpedal on the invitation faster than a new shipment of toilet paper would have sold-out late March.

Virtual Meetups

Making excuses for these gatherings can be trickier and requires some nuance. If someone is planning an event with multiple people, I like to stay silent when the time and date is being set and then as soon as plans have been made hit reply all with “Sorry everyone, that time doesn’t work for me. I hope you all have fun!” They’ve all just gone through the hassle of coordinating schedules so they won’t want to make a change on one person’s behalf.

If these are closer acquaintances and they won’t accept such a nondescript alibi, a little more cunning is essential. You might be able to get away with saying that you’ve just spent too long looking at a computer screen that day but sometimes your friends are hell-bent on spending quality time with you. In this case, you may have to bite the bullet and enter that Zoom meeting. Fear not, though, because there are a variety of tools available to get back to watching Netflix as soon as possible. Here’s a few suggestions but you’ll only be able to use them once per friend:

  • Your computer or phone is about to die and you can’t find your charger.

  • You have some other important call that you completely forgot about at the same time.

  • Uh-oh, there’s an emergency in the other room and you have to leave! (Dog is throwing up, roommate started a fire in the oven, Jehovah’s Witnesses are at your door and they’re determined that Covid is a sign of the apocalypse so they’re trying to convert as many people before the end as possible, etc.)

  • You’re really hungry.

  • You ate buffalo wings last night and they’re coming back to pay a visit. (This is best reserved for closer friends)

  • You forgot what time the call was and aren’t near your computer.

These are just a few examples that I’ve utilized in the past with varying degrees of success. You should tailor your excuses to your friends and your own life.

In conclusion, with enough ingenuity and confidence, getting out of social commitments during quarantine can be just as successful and cathartic as it was pre-2020. That being said, you shouldn’t employ these techniques too often. As much as I hate to say it, we’re going to need our social groups for when this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for blissful seclusion is over. While Covid has given us the ability to live like a hermit without being labeled as one, all good things must come to an end.


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