November 13, 2013

Yes, I will come see the holiday lights! (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

More than 24 hours have passed. And the LivingSocial website is still down.

That’s like 6 news cycles! Whenever I disappear from the Internet for that long, my parents telephone me to make sure I haven’t lumbered into a tar pit. “These things happen,” they point out.

What happened, LivingSocial? You had a rad brownstone in DC’s downtown. I know because went there to attend a workout class with Prancercise Founder Joanna Rohrback. I read about it when you threw the Seven Deadly Sins/”Greed Dreidel Fiasco” party. That wasn’t awkward, tone-deaf casual anti-semitism, it turns out. It was a cry for help.

I just didn’t know it was so bad. I went back through my inbox for all the emails from LivingSocial deals that I overlooked to see if I’d missed something, and — well — I really had. It forms a clear pattern.

For the past several weeks, LivingSocial has been trying to reach out to me. And I let it down.

November 1: “Washington Redskins Holiday Family Photo Shoot & More.” This should have been some kind of red flag. LivingSocial was evidently hanging out with a weird crowd. And, tucked into this strange invite, was the shocking revelation that it considered me family. Why else invite me to this shoot? (I deleted it.)

November 4: “Airport Transportation.” Nobody offers you a ride to the airport just out of the blue. They always want to talk, or something. But LivingSocial was the kind of friend where I thought maybe it was okay. It was, after all, in a “‘NewJak’ executive limousine.” I should have known the limousine was a red herring. You never reach out to friends when you’re feeling bad to say “I’m feeling miserable and for the past three days I have only left my apartment to watch Les Miserables alone in the back of a movie theater quietly sobbing into a big vat of macaroni and cheese.” No. You call them to say, “Hey! I just ran into Jennifer Garner.” (I deleted it too.)

November 6: “Wine Tasting.” LivingSocial loves wine tastings, so I didn’t think anything of it.

November 6, again: “The Holidays are here! Make it a season to remember!” I should have noticed the persistence. LivingSocial was gently trying to suggest that it always felt especially lonely around the holidays and could use my companionship now more than ever. I ignored that too.

November 9: “3 Bottles of Flyte Vodka.” Three bottles! That should have clued me in. LivingSocial always liked to drink, but mostly socially, at wine tastings and possibly-antisemitic parties and things like that. Not hard liquor, three bottles to a person. Not like this. But you know how you have that one friend who is always right on the edge between Always Game To Drink In The Afternoon and Probably In Need Of Help, and how you never do anything about it? You know it’s worse for them in the long run, probably, but it is nice to have someone who will drink with you at 3 on a Tuesday if work ever goes really badly. I filed this email under that.

November 11: “30-Day Passport Membership To Washington Sports Clubs.” LivingSocial never wants to commit to working out, so this should have been an even bigger red flag. It’s always 5 Classes Here or 6 Sample Yoga Workouts. But 30 whole days? Did LivingSocial feel out of shape? No. What LivingSocial felt, was lonely. Lonely and willing to try anything. I see that now.

November 12: “ZooLights Package For Four.” Just the four of us. Like old times. Is it my fault all three other people had conflicts and it was easier just not to show? Critical mass. Peer pressure. It can be awkward to be one-on-one with a person, especially someone you haven’t seen in a while, especially without any alcohol involved, around zoo-flavored lights.

And then nothing.

Basically, LivingSocial did everything short of calling me up on the telephone and whimpering, and I ignored it. Behind those cheery fonts, bold color arrays, and pictures of people with glossy hair enjoying themselves in knit sweaters, there was despair. LivingSocial had been feeling less than 100% of itself for a while, but it was down to 10% of its original worth and value. And there would be no massage at the end of this one.

Then Groupon decided that a good strategy would be to give away free money to everyone, basically, and when your competitor is doing that, you may well ask yourself what the Point of It All is. You want to do what LivingSocial is doing right now — namely, curl up and insist that there is “maintenance” going on. What if I just stop doing stuff? LivingSocial asked. Will anyone notice?

And we didn’t, in some cases, for days.

Sorry about that.

Look, uh, if you need to talk, please, call me. Or email. Email’s good too. Or talk to HealthCare.gov. I hear it’s going through some similar things.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.