Boorish relatives, vengeful exes, inappropriate work attire, unsent thank-you notes -- traditional advice columnists have spent decades offering prescriptions for these gaffes.
Now, thanks to social media, the Internet and any number of gadgets and innovations, we have the means to offend or upset people on an unprecedented scale. With every new technology, there are new ways to make an absolute fool of yourself.
We need Emily Post 2.0!
I'd like to spare you some of the cringe-inducing violations that -- trust me -- I learned the hard way. No, everyone does not use technology in the same manner you do. With rapidly evolving technologies, no one is on the same (Web) page.
Of course, some of these potential problems are far from trivial. Standard parental dictums ("Do not get arrested. Please?") take on new meaning in this landscape of social media landmines. Take the teenager in Park Ridge, Illinois, who was arrested when police tracked down Facebook photos of her breaking into a vacant building. (Parental dictum 2011: "Do not post photographic evidence of your illegal activities online. Please?")Netiquette is an ongoing series that will codify good tech rules of thumb for email, voicemail, texting, Facebook, IMs, gChat, Skype or borrowing someone else's computer (hint: do not download porn).
- Do not leave voicemails for your children. It does not matter how many you leave. Voicemail is out, grandpa. Text your kids. They'll still ignore you, but at least you'll know they read it.
- The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton this April 29 has inspired stern commandments such as: "Thou shalt not tweet during the ceremony like it's a sporting event no matter how flattering (@TheBride walking down the aisle now! #Gorgeous #Tears)." But if you're one of the romantic hoi polloi watching on television with about a billion other people and the Queen can't see you, tweet away! Just use the right hashtag: #OMGRoyalWedding!
- If you don't get a reply to an email, do not automatically assume that the other person hates you, is being disrespectful (Dad, I'm talking to you) or even realizes he or she hasn't yet responded. Just send a forward of the original email with a brief line like, "Just following up!" They'll take the (polite) hint.
- Do not triple text recipients unless you are in the midst of an active back-and-forth texting session. They saw your first two texts. They are busy doing things like sleeping or reading or attempting to work. (Yeah, well, probably not the third. But in theory.)
- Whoever made the initial dial has the responsibility to ring the other party back when someone's cellphone inevitably drops the call. Don't apologize or wonder aloud whose phone service is worse. Just keep going where you left off.
- Lock your phone so your butt doesn't dial your wife and transmit muffled, distorted sound that convinces her you are being held hostage by terrorists and causes her to call in the SWAT team, like a real housewife on Chicago's North Shore did recently. That's not how you want to go viral.
- Do not reply all. Even your mom stopped doing so in '06. Reply all is never acceptable. Best-case scenario: You're obnoxious. Worst case: You incite violence among friends and acquaintances.
- You are allowed to be a fan of your own gadgets, and even mention that you like them, but you are not allowed to relentlessly harass others to purchase said gadgets. Unless that person is still using an Apple Newton. If so, you have a moral responsibility to wrest it from their hands and donate it to the nearest six-year-old, who will probably laugh and hand it back, citing a "woeful lack of technological capabilities that aren't on par with the current generation of tablet computing."
- Typing in all caps: NOOOOO!!!
These rules are meant to be debated! Let me hear from you. You're welcome to disagree, qualify or add your own.
What is your netiquette?