Modern Day Technology Etiquette
New tech meets old etiquette.
I don’t consider myself too much of a Miss Manners fuddy-duddy. Ending sentences in prepositions is something I’ll totally put up with. And beginning them with conjunctions makes me feel as groovy as using slang. Really, I’m an incorrigible, foul-mouthed boar; I grab the wrong water glass at dinner parties and put on whole dramas with my food where the poached salmon tells the bok choy salad about how he could have been a “contenduh.”
Look, I get it: Your aunt—the one with the mink stole and the yachting sixth husband who calls you “Sport”—tells you to sit up straight and not hug your children, and you might get the idea that etiquette went out with the Eisenhower years. But when you’re yapping on your cellphone at a restaurant where you have to book three months in advance and somebody like me tells you that you’re being a Hun, I suggest you listen.
Since technology is ubiquitous, people have griped about the obviously annoying, so these are my suggestions for subtler—but still so needed—new tech etiquette.
■ I think we finally can break with the early-tech dictate that even checking a phone around company is ungentlemanly. Phones are where important information comes from these days. But, if the subject of communication is truly important, then you must say so, excuse yourself to somewhere you can talk or text without interrupting others, and return quickly. If you say it’s important but then the words “No, he didn’t!” come out of your mouth, you’ve effectively made a private conversation public—and can now expect me to demand to know everything that was said, insist on talking to the caller/texter myself, and/or tell you about the ridiculous things that my friend’s ex-boyfriends said to her.
■ The same goes for forcing your interlocutor to go public in a way he or she didn’t expect. If people are calling you to talk to you about “the rash,” they probably don’t want to be put on speakerphone, even if you’re doing something else with your hands.
■ Not having your phone on vibrate is the same as carrying around a boom box. The only thing worse than my being forced to listen to Ke$ha in what was previously a serene office, is teasing me with the opening bars of “Purple Haze” before cutting me off mid air-strum to talk to your mother.
■ Don’t pick it up when you’re using the bathroom. Just…just don’t. Please don’t make me describe this in any more graphic terms.
■ If I copied someone on an e-mail that I wrote you, I wanted him or her to be a part of the conversation, so hit “Reply All” when you respond. I don’t want to forward for you, and I really don’t want to become the go-between when the third person wants to respond to you. “Mary, Jack says that he totally agrees with the idea you’d sent me in response to his thought that the deadline might be too early when you announced that it would be on the 14th in response to what I wrote about…” I realize that this one got started because of “Reply All” abuse, but let’s try to find balance.
■ If you play Facebook games, for the love of Mark Zuckerberg, please turn your notifications off. I don’t care that you’ve kicked the farm or bought the bucket or become the head of the “Allied Bank of South Bend, Indiana Crime Family.” The same goes with quizzes: whatever Hogwarts house you’d be in, what your horoscope says about your flirting style, and how likely you are to marry Edward Cullen is your own business and none
■ Feel free to send me an event invite through Facebook, but I will feel free to ignore it if I think you invited everybody on your friends list. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not looking for a lucrative career as a music-video extra, and your so-called friends on Facebook are not your posse.
■ Cut-and-paste Facebook statuses are just as annoying as chain emails, which are just as annoying as chain letters (for those of you old enough to remember)—and there is a strict prohibition in Leviticus against chain scrolls.
■ Surprisingly, LiveJournal still has an active URL, but that doesn’t excuse you going emo all day, every day on your Facebook page. Your car stalled in the rain and you need friend-love to flow from the Wi-Fi while you dry out with some ramen and a Law & Order rerun? Fine. But when every day is the WORST DAY EVER, you’ve essentially tried to make me your shrink, and I don’t appreciate getting paid in pokes just because we went to elementary school together.
■ This isn’t so much etiquette as common sense: don’t complain about people that you’re friends with, or even people your friends are friends with…especially your boss.
■ “C u soon” is fine for a flirty text, but if you’re tempted to write, “g2g wife havin baB,” you’re not yet fit to be a parent.
Conspicuous Early Adopting:
■ I’ll get Google+ when I’m good and ready. I don’t want that much more of my personal information out there, or one more password to forget, and I’m certainly not sending it to a company with three already-failed experiments in social networking. I chose not to join Foursquare, and, unlike you, now that it’s basically fizzled, my friends still pay attention when I say things, and my parents don’t know every single bar I go to.
Oh, and referring to people as “Huns”? It’s so not PC. What are you, a hillbilly?