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While online, thou shalt not...

While online, thou shalt not...
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First Published: Tue, Jun 21 2011. 08 52 PM IST

No sneak peeks: Online etiquette demands that you keep your eyes off other people’s screens. Illustration by Raajan/Mint
No sneak peeks: Online etiquette demands that you keep your eyes off other people’s screens. Illustration by Raajan/Mint
Updated: Tue, Jun 21 2011. 08 52 PM IST
Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have their share of boorish people who jump into other people’s conversation, generally create a ruckus or bombard your Wall with their gaming updates—and don’t know when to stop. Here’s a list of things to avoid.
Playing games on other people’s Walls
Yes, we know that you love to play Farmville, take mid-afternoon quizzes about “Which Mahabharata character are you?” and “What kind of Ramdev follower are you?”, and dozens of other apps that come your way on Facebook. That doesn’t mean your friends should suffer from a perennial feed of your app activity. It’s not only irksome to see who you just added as a “friend” on Facebook, but also increases the silly updates on people’s Walls. Before they turn off the extra noise you are creating by un-friending you, turn off the bot updates that these apps generate.
Go to your Privacy Settings > Apps and Websites. Click on “Edit your settings”. On the Web page that follows, click on the “Edit Settings” button along with the “Apps you use” header. This will list all the apps you use and what your profile is being used for. Uncheck the feature “Post on your Wall” for every app. Believe us, your friends will thank you for it.
Saying no to your mother
No sneak peeks: Online etiquette demands that you keep your eyes off other people’s screens. Illustration by Raajan/Mint
You might dread the day your mother, or the gossipy aunt who wants you to get married to her cousin’s son, sends a friend request on Facebook or Orkut but you cannot really stop them from coming into your online social spaces. Not unless you change your cellphone number and house and shift to another planet. There are some people you just cannot avoid, but don’t despair—Facebook lets you divide your friends into different lists through which you can control who sees what on your Wall, your status updates, your photographs and even tags. Keep a list of people you couldn’t say “no” to and limit the way they see your profile. You can control the status updates they read, the photos they see and the discussions they can keep a tab on. Make Lists by clicking on Friends on the left-hand side of your Facebook profile. Now go to Edit Friends > Create a List. Once you have completed segregating your friends, simply go to Privacy Settings. Click on Customize Settings in the section “Sharing on Facebook”. You can click on each of the elements on your Facebook profile, such as your information, posts, photographs and details, and for each set which lists of people can view them.
Using all caps
Except when it’s a bank that has just used your credit card for an unauthorized payment, or when you want to make a point strongly, never ever use all caps for any communication online. In the online world, talking in all caps is not talking, but YELLING. It means that you are in a foul mood and anyone who reads it will take it as you shouting. Not the kind of impression you want to give to people you might or might not be friends with. Unless you like to shout at people (and no, we do not judge), go lowercase.
Tagging your friends to your advertisement
You might be an entrepreneur or a budding artist but posting a photo of your latest work of art and tagging all your friends on Facebook to it for “spreading the word” on their Walls is uncool. It’s blatant self-promotion and turns people off. Until someone’s face is in the photograph, don’t “tag” them. If you want someone to know about your new work or want to wish someone, send a message. It’s polite and non-intrusive.
Making your virtual world more real than your real one
You might be a best friend in the virtual worlds of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Friendster, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc., but if it disconnects you from the people you meet in your real world, it’s a crappy deal. Have a no-Internet hour or day, especially when you are attending a family dinner or a friend’s wedding. Sometimes it is nicer to just talk to people you meet face to face without any bots or devices.
Sending a friend request more than once
Some people follow you, some people don’t. Some people want to be in your professional circles, some don’t. Accept that and respect a person’s choice. If someone chooses to stay away from you, let them. Don’t turn into a pest and send a request to connect more than once. Instead of mulling on the ones who got away, involve yourself with the ones you are connected to already.
Sending auto messages
Remember how you hate those marketing SMSes from real estate companies and banks? It’s the same with mass messages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Don’t flood your pals with generic messages about your favourite page or that website you love. Messages are meant to be personal. Keep it that way.
Lying about yourself online
“A friend kept posting ‘partying in New York’, while his Foursquare kept updating Bangalore locations, which was just funny,” says Noopur Lily, a 20-year-old photographer based in Delhi. “When you are addicted to geo-tag sites like Foursquare, you can’t really lie about where you are right now. People find out,” she says. The online world is not private, and you need to understand that. It’s all right to clean up your online social image with little tweaks but making yourself look like Angelina Jolie or Ranbir Kapoor is going a bit too far. Be comfortable in your skin and let it show.
Smelly status updates
Would you fart in an elevator and jump up and down proclaiming that it was you who did it? Then why should people get to know about your loo obsessions as status updates? “I hate it when people talk about their breakfast, lunch or dinner and worst, the aftermath of it all,” says Ranjita Ravi, 27, a medical student in Paris. We know you have the right to go to the bathroom as many times as you like and the power to post inane recordings of your mundane life on Facebook or Twitter, but if you are looking for some respect online, refrain from giving minute descriptions of your boring life. Type only when you have something interesting to share or say.
Peeking in
It’s just not the done thing. You might think it’s a pretty funny thing to put “digging my nose” as a status update on a colleague’s open social network, but it’s not. The computer screen is a private world and no one likes others to see what’s on it. Imagine the kind of things you do on your computer. Right. Now imagine how you would feel if someone catches you doing them. Keep your eyes and hands off other people’s keyboards and screens. As a matter of courtesy, when people type passwords on the computer, step back and look away.
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First Published: Tue, Jun 21 2011. 08 52 PM IST
More Topics: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Etiquette | Orkut |