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Showing up late, not showing up at all and breaking promises can then become the norm.When that happens enough times to enough people, you end up in a legendarily flaky city, and social and dating life encounter more obstacles. The transience of the city’s entertainment culture adds an aura of impermanence and unreliability to social ties.

Physics tells us that the higher the activation energy, the less frequent the event.

So people become less likely to meet to get to know one another casually. Even though the times required to get around in NYC are comparable, the perceived effort of taking the subway or hopping in a cab is much less than driving yourself through snarls of traffic. Lack of pedestrian culture reduces opportunities for casual contact.

Hence people there are much more willing to go places and meet up. Whenever I visit Boston, New York or London, I bump into friends – on the sidewalk, on the subway, in the parks.

Here’s the psychology of what I think happens: once you’ve been late or missed an appointment for reasons beyond your control, your brain has to make a choice: “I’m flaky so I’m a bad person” vs.

“Flakiness is okay.” To avoid cognitive dissonance, the unconscious choice that most people make is to validate the unintended bad behavior.

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