Modern technology presents contemporary ladies and gents with the kind of etiquette pitfalls Emily Post could never have imagined. Just as World War I was especially bloody because the artillery had progressed faster than the development of new military tactics, technology presents an unmannered minefield because etiquette has not kept pace with its development.
One battle in which a supply of etiquette needs to be rushed to the front is Facebook. It has been a rocky road in transitioning from face to face communications to interacting as disembodied versions of ourselves. But whether meeting in the flesh or connecting across cyberspace, the rules of civility still apply. The following friendly reminders may serve to restore the rules of etiquette to our modern age:
It should go without saying: gentlemen and ladies only use Facebook.
MySpace is for cads and scallywags.
Use discretion when wall posting.
Do not use Facebook's wall to have entire conversations. You'll look like a boob if you do. Use wall posts for well wishes and hellos. Also, do not post anything too personal on a person's wall. Remember, walls are public spaces, so treat them as such.
Take it easy on the application invites.
Trust us. Your friends don't want to be your neighbor on FarmVille nor do they desire to join you on a hit in Cuba on Mob Wars. Only a person with a mind that functions at six guinea pig power would spam all their friends with invites to silly Facebook Applications.
Use appropriate language when writing on someone else's wall.
Avoid off-color comments and gossip. And check for spelling mistakes. Just think, "What kind of impression do I want to give others?"
Keep photos of yourself to a minimum.
Especially photos taken of yourself by yourself, by holding the camera away from your face. Gentleman and ladies are modest and discreet. Hundreds of photos of yourself reveal your vanity.
Do not break up with a person through Facebook.
Only a real jagweeed would use Facebook's relationship status feature to break up with their significant other. If you aren't mature enough to look a person in the eyes and tell them it's over, you weren't mature enough to be in a relationship in the first place.
Remove compromising photos of yourself.
If you're a true gentleman or lady, you shouldn't have to worry about any incriminating photos of you winding up on Facebook. However, if a photo of you in a compromising pose does slip by, ask the poster to take it down. At least remove the tag of you in the photo.
Join Facebook Fan Pages with discretion.
The pages you choose to join, even as a joke, say a lot about you. Use discretion. Additionally, keep the number of pages you join to a minimum.
Avoid "oversharing" in your status updates.
There is such a thing as too much information. You don't need to post about your personal grooming habits, the regularity of your bowel movements, or why your boyfriend is such a jerk. Post status updates on things that others might legitimately care to know about your life. And of course don't post things that will get in you trouble with your friends, your boss, or your mom!
Don't "friend" someone you don't know or hardly know.
Facebook has degraded the meaning of friendship. A gentleman or lady respects semantics and only includes people in his or her Facebook network that truly are their friends. Don't be afraid to ignore random people who try to befriend you.
Respond to people's Facebook wall posts and messages.
Respond within twenty-four hours. If you feel overwhelmed with Facebook messages, let others know you prefer to be contacted by e-mail.
Default rule: Apply the same courtesy, respect, and decorum you would in real life.
When you get down to it, the same rules of etiquette that apply in the "real" world, apply to our online communities. When in doubt, simply remember to use the same courtesy, respect, and decorum you would use in face-to-face interactions and you'll be golden.
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