My engineer friend George is my friend for very good reasons.
As well as being an expert in everything I know nothing about, he also has an endearing habit: He always turns up on time.
Please forgive me (or don't), but I find meaning what you say moving. It's a quaint form of respect that not everyone seems to grasp.
Even if George is Skyping with a perfectly spoken blonde Tinder-mate in an exotic land or coming from an important conference about something mind-numbingly engineery, if it's 7 o'clock at the bar, that's when he shows.
Not everyone is like that.
Cell phones have made it easier not merely to cancel at the last minute, but also to be frightfully late. You don't have to actually talk. Texting somehow takes the hurt out of the rejection. It's also made rejection far more convenient and popular.
In it, Cornell explores all the different and ugly ways in which phones contribute to making us flakier than an accountant's scalp.
The whole concept of the plan has turned into a feast as movable as the stomach of your average offensive lineman.
Cell phones allow you to make reconfirmations. This is one way of attempting to get a feel for who might really turn out to be a flake soon or at the very last moment.
They also allow for everyone involved in the plan to make an entirely new plan. Just because they feel like it. At that moment, anyway.
Cornell believes there are three categories of flake: the latecomers, the no-shows, and the optimizers.
In some sense, the last of these are the worst. These are the people who involve themselves in several plans simultaneously. They won't decide whether you're worthy until the very last moment. When something will, perhaps, suddenly come up.
The lovely thing about cell phones is that they've allowed people to be their true, deeply selfish selves at every moment of their lives.
With just a few letters, "yes" can become "no," "I love you" can become "goodbye," and "7 p.m. at La Ciccia" can become "Oh, I think I just broke my leg. Let's reschedule for next Thursday at Sushi Ran."
It's not the phone's fault, though, is it? Those who are truly polite do at least use them for good. They bother to inform you that they're going to be late, as opposed to those who flounce in not caring whether you've been waiting 40 minutes or not.
What a touching world, though, where we're busily staring at our phones, examining a matrix of possibilities for the evening and believing that we will be the ones to choose just what is perfect for us.
Until our phone buzzes and it's someone canceling us.