Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Meaning of Optional

As defined in the Webster Dictionary:

left to one's choice; not required or mandatory: Formal dress is optional.

Given this definition, one would think that things deemed optional would be totally up to one's discretion and they could attend optional functions as they saw fit and follow the clothing optional rule at establishments governed by that rule.

This seems never to be the case in all of my experiences with "optional" things in my life so far though. As a member of numerous sports teams, I have attended all kinds of practices that were billed as optional, although they were certainly not optional by any means. Of course, I was fine with this as I enjoyed running, working out, competing and being with my friends - but still, not optional.

I have also been invited to innumerable workshops, trainings and events that have been billed as both "optional" and "completely optional" and then caught flack when I opted not to attend. If you are planning an event or a function of some kind and seek to bill it as optional, don't get all pissy and hostile when people choose not to attend. If you want people there, say so.

I have no problem showing up when my presence is required but frankly, I have plenty of stuff to do with my time and if it's a choice between an optional weekend work function and, say, a weekend spent with friends and family I don't see a whole lot of reason to go to work.

I'm tired of all this optionally-mandatory crap and passive agressiveness. Either accept that people will decline optional things or make them mandatory - just don't make thinly veiled sarcastic comments when people exercise their right to opt out.

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