Thursday, January 26, 2012

Emily Post Doing Summersaults

Or more correctly.....Emily Post turning over in her grave.

Not really, more like me irritated because I spent the entire day collecting very tedious data and didn't talk to a soul at work the whole day and feel the need to rant to decompress.

OK, I am addicted to social media, or at least Facebook.  Everyone seems to know that about me.  I get a lot of comments about it IRL.  Colleagues tell me all the time that I am such an avid poster, and sharer.  After a while I stopped posting my posts to my colleagues because I got sick of hearing about it.

But let's face it, social media is a huge form of communication in our world today and for all it's imperfections, it ain't goin' anywhere because it offers something that other modes of communication can't.   You can be in contact with loads of people all at the same time.  It is the easiest and most effective way to maintain contact with lots of people, even people who dropped out of your life and are now back in, thanks to Facebook or Twitter (try as I might I just can't get into Twitter).   Like me, living abroad and away from most of my family and friends in the US, Facebook is the perfect way for me to keep up with friends and family and for them to keep up with me.  It's great.  Plus thanks to Facebook I now have reconnected with tons of people I went to high school with, college with and people from youth group and from all kinds of places.

Technology is a funny thing. It connects us in ways that were even 10 or 15 years ago unimaginable.  A couple of months ago while cleaning out some stuff I found some of our old cell phones, dating back to the early 2000's.  I was amazed at the look of them and how big they were (to say nothing of the 90's cellphones which were gigantic.  My first cell phone which I got around 1993 was a car phone and it was stored in it's own shoulder bag and plugged into the car's cigarette lighter.  OK, that was 20 years ago but even 20 years ago a home computer was not a given in most households.   Even cellphones from 5 years ago have changed immensely.    Five years ago cellphones were primarily for calling and texting, although texting has become viral in the past 5 or so years, but now we use cell phones for Internet and social media and for nearly the same stuff that we used to exclusively use computers for just 5 years ago.  The other day on the tram I saw someone texting from a non-smart phone, using only the numerical pad as a keyboard and I thought what a dinosaur!

Technology makes dinosaurs extinct in lightening speed.

When I was a kid I used to marvel when my parents told us there was no television when they were growing up.  I used to picture them wearing bonnets and hooking up horse to saddle and bathing in a creek, the thought of no television making the world seem so archaic and pioneer-like.  I am sure that kids born in the 1990's feel the same about computers and the Internet and I am sure that kids of Maya's generation will be incredulous when they hear we didn't all grow up with iPads and iPhones. Maya doesn't know how to make a telephone call but she can zip around iPhone and iPad applications at warp speed.

But technology also makes us forget our manners.

People will chat on cellphones in the middle of sitting in a cafe with friends or will gab on the phone loudly while sitting in public on a tram, bus or train with no thought that the people around them can not only hear what they are talking about but also the fact that they are disrupting other people around them isn't even part of our cell phone consciousness.

Remember, those of you old enough to, when you had to use a pay phone to make a telephone call in public?  Payphones in establishments were usually located out of the line of the main crowds, both so that you could actually hear your conversation but also so that your call would not disturb other people.  Remember actual phone booths?  Little boxes that you had to enter and shut in order to make your call.  Privacy and no disturbance to others by your conversation.

Now apparently with the public telephones becoming extinct, apparently so is the possibility of being in public without someone yacking on the phone in your ear.

And even in social media there are manners.  There are tons of sites dedicated to telling us how we should behave in social media, what types of things are acceptable and what are not.

I've said this before and I will say it again, what we are in life we are in social media.  Pretty much everyone I know IRL I recognize based on their online behavior and that's fine, but the written word, even if it is 140 characters or less misses a tone of voice, those words can sometimes sting or be taken the wrong way.  I've even managed to offend a few friends with my posts and those are just the ones I know about.

I really do try to think about how what I am actually saying will be perceived by those who may read it and I've deleted posts after posting them because a few seconds after I hit enter, I think, "that's not how I want to come across."

But I do think there is some basic social etiquette to social networking.  People opposed to social networking would say that it is not real life and can't take the place of real life, but I beg to differ, it is a big part of the social world these days. And we all of course have our personal preferences and tastes, but I do think it is good to think about how what you write is received.

I am a judgmental person by nature so you can bet I am not only reading and reacting to what you say, but also how you say it.  These are some of the things that I see that cause me to raise an eyebrow.  Some of them are etiquette type of issues and some are lack of technological prowess type of things but they bug me nonetheless:

1.  Typing in all caps. this one is basically on any netiquette list out there and it's because it's true.  Typing in all caps is the social networking equivalent of talking with your mouth full.  It's hard to read, it's tough on the eyes and it is the cyberpsace equivalent of shouting.  Many people feel it is lazy, but I think it is a sure sign that the person typing doesn't know how to type and just finds it easier instead of having to find the keys and push shift to make a capital, to leave them all in capitals.  I generally hide people from my newsfeed if they post on a daily basis in all caps.  It's just too hard on the eyes and PS, usually the posts contain tons of typos.  I know for people of my generation or older, who may not have learned to touch type in school (best class I ever took), this can be tough, but learning how to type is relatively easy, there are tons of online courses where you can master it usually in a few hours.  This is the world, we type, you need to know how.  We live in a technology filled world, catch up people.

2.  Chain statuses.  Actually the chain status in and of itself doesn't bother me a bit, I rarely copy and paste them and since you can recognize one right away on your newsfeed, I just skip right over them.  And there is nothing wrong with trying to call attention to something which is important to you and something that you feel passionate about.  I do it all the time and probably annoy the crap out of people too,  but I don't do it via chain status.  The ones that bug me are the ones that have the last line in them which try to guilt you into copying, the ones which say something like:  "I know only my true friends will" or "very few will actually make this their status for an hour".  That annoys me.  Even if I was a chain status-er there is no way, I would copy and paste something that has that guilt line thrown in.  It's like a guarantee of no copy and paste.

3.  Virus warnings with no fact checking.  This is a big one for me and one which is sure to get you a snarky comment from me if you do it.  About 80 percent of the virus warnings you get are hoaxes, particularly if the damage they do is not possible, like deleting your whole computer.  It is easier and takes less effort to check this before you spread the word around. provides reliable up to date information about whether or not a virus is real, a hoax or partially real and other sites do this too.  If I can take the time to check, so can you.

4.  Not responding to messages or wall posts.  I know there are a lot of people with Facebook accounts that are just not online that much and that's fine, you can usually tell whether someone is online much based on the age of their wall.  I certainly don't expect someone to respond in a day when their last post was 3 months ago.  But I always take the time to respond in a timely fashion and expect others to do the same (at least the next time they are online).  I find it horribly rude when I have sent a message or put something on someone's wall and then I see them post status after status in my newsfeed but can't even bother to give me a few words response.  Seriously, if you are not interested in me, then please do unfriend me, otherwise do me the courtesy of giving me a few words or at the very least the like button which is 1-click.  If I can't get a click out of you, then we shouldn't be Facebook friends.  Facebook has this great feature where you can see all your notifications which is a big red circle at the top of FB and you can very easily see and zip on over to all the reactions to your posts or things people have put on your wall.

5.  Not knowing the difference between Reply and Reply to All - this is more an email thing but I hate it when someone hits reply to all when it is not really relevant for all the people addressed in in the email.  Most mass addressed emails are already not relevant for the entire group of people selected and seeing the reply after reply makes it even worse, get someone whose original email is a mistake and you get tons o'crap in your email.  At my office once (and I work for a global company with about 6,000 employees), someone mistakenly sent a massive email regarding an invoice from a vendor to the entire company.  A few people replied to all saying the email was not relevant to them, and other people followed suit (because people think, if one random person answered, then I better answer too) and I counted up 250 emails in the span 12 minutes, the last 40 or so were people telling the rest of the company to stop replying to all, by replying to all.  People, it's 2012, there's no more excuses of not understanding EMAIL technology.  Figure it out.

6.  Hijacking statuses habitually.  Like conversations, sometimes status updates and their comments go off topic or head in a different direction, I am generally fine with that but there are some who continually hijack a status and start mounting inside jokes with someone else that no one else in the conversation gets or they change the topic entirely, every time they comment.  It's the equivalent of your mother calling you to come and do your homework, just when you are headed out with your friends.  Stay on topic, if you have other questions or other things to say, put a post on my wall or message me.

5.  The rapid fire messages (text, chat, social media, email).  This makes me crazy when I am chatting with someone on skype or facebook and they pepper me with a zillion different messages before I have a chance to respond.  So I am typing the answer to the first question and they are on question 6.  I am generally not in favor of chatting because of this but people don't get that you can sometimes be called away from a computer.  Chatting is like a conversation, it should be interactive.  You say something, I say something, your turn, my turn.

So, those are the things that bug me, there I said it.


  1. Yep, I agree with most, and am guilty of some. But I did learn something new about FB in your #4.
    I never realized you could see replies in the menu bar. When they stopped sending them to me via email a while back, I stopped being able to keep track if people left comments. I apologize for any offense. Sometimes I do take a while before answering your comments on my blog, only because I need time to digest what you wrote, and want to think before replying something quick and simplistic, especially if you have put effort into the comment, which you always seem to do.
    Please don't unfriend me, you're just about the best FB friend I have!

    1. Glad to help you with #4! I would never unfriend you Lita, we have way too much in common for that and I enjoy our interaction too much. I have always been a good corresponder, I was an avid letter writer until the advent of email and social networking.

      You blog about some very heavy topics, they take some thought to process and to think about. I admire how you are able to let your vulnerability show on your blog so well.