Category Archives: Etiquette

Cardinal Sins For Political Activism And Debate

I’ve mentioned before how I do try to keep politics out of most of my posts.  My personal leanings are moderate conservative, somewhere along the Libertarian/Tea Party Republican border.  That said, I thrive on oppositional research.  Conservative and liberal feeds stream almost constantly into my social media.  I’ve noticed certain trends on all of the political spectrum which need to stop for one reason or another.  No one reading this can feel superior by thinking, “Well, MY party doesn’t do that!”  Whether big two or independent, these problems are plaguing EVERY party.

1.  Fraudulent social media reporting. – I used to see conservative pages frozen or shut down all the time only to come back with the note that someone reported to whatever social media site that they were posting pornographic material, which of course they weren’t.  Liberal social media pages seemed to be unaffected from where I sat.  Then I read another WordPress blog called A Girl Named Jack.  Her latest post was a general complaint of someone doing the same to her Facebook page and she wondered why it only ever happens to liberal pages.  What we have here is a case of greener grass on the other side of the fence. 
If you do oppositional research, as I do, then you still are likely to follow more sympathetic pages than opponent pages.  This increases the chances of noticing this sort of thing happening to your side than the other.  Not to mention the fact that you’ll notice the occurrences on your side more due to less investment on the other side.  If you do no oppositional research, you have no real idea whether this happens to the other side or not.
In any case, don’t be that jerk.  Ignore the post.  Or, if reporting is warranted, report honestly.  Facebook has admitted they don’t have sufficient staffing levels to sort it all.  As a result, blocking is done without review unless appealed by the person to whom the blocked account belongs.  Reporting an opponent’s page as pornographic (unless there is indeed pornography) is fraud.  It is the dishonest, underhanded abuse of a tool and is not conducive to earnest debate.

2.  Name calling.-What are we?  5 years old?  Do we need to be put in a corner for time-out?  Calling each other “Libertards” and “Republicunts” is out of line. Period.  If you pull this move in a Twitter argument, you’ve already lost.  It doesn’t matter whether you are on the right side of the issue or not nor does it matter how worthy your cause is.  You’ve already shut down communication while simultaneously making your side look bad.  Debate over.

3.  Slogans.-Slogans are great tools for lectures, posters, and other one-sided outlets.  But slogans have no place in debate.  If the only argument you have is to parrot a slogan, you’re out of ammo.

4.  ALL CAPS.-WE HAVE ALL RUN ACROSS THIS ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND IN COMMENT SECTIONS.  SERIOUSLY, KNOCK IT OFF.  IT IS THE TYPOGRAPHICAL EQUIVALENT TO YELLING, SERVES ONLY TO ANNOY, AND THERE IS NO GOOD REASON FOR IT.  Every device with which you can type has upper and lower case letters.  Make use of this feature, or type lower case.

5.  Death threats.-So obviously inappropriate, I can’t believe the sheer frequency with which it occurs.  I have had too few comments on my blog (Go ahead, I don’t bite.  Much.), but if I receive a threat then I will take it seriously by reporting it to the proper authorities.

6.  Hyperbole.-OMG!  People who overuse hyperbole all time a murdering the language beyond death!!!  If this continues, they’ll rape your eyes with all of this overly overdone extreme ranting!!!!!

7.  Putting words into the other’s mouth.-The only reason no one can argue with a person who commits this error is due to this action abandoning logic and reason altogether.  It also closes more ears than it opens.  I began to listen to the Associated Geekery podcast after hearing about it on the Arkham Sessions.  I shut the episode off part way through and have never listened to it again.  Part way through the episode, a co-host went on a rant about how she thinks that companies should know what charities and politicians a person donates to (nevermind that the lack of such info protects employees all along the political spectrum).  During this rant, she gave an example of if her boss donates to a pro-life charity.  “So you’re okay with me working here, but you think I should be barefoot in the kitchen raising kids” (quote from memory).  Those are two seperate things.  The pro-life camp isn’t saying that.  Sufferagette Susan B. Anthony was against abortion and saw it as a tool by which women would be oppressed.  Pro-life does not equal anti-feminist.  If you are going to bring an argument like this to the table, show the link.

8.  Just repeating the same post over and over.-’nuff said.

8.  Just repeating the same post over and over.-’nuff said.

8.  Just repeating the same post over and over.-’nuff said.

Did I forget any?

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Spoiler Alert Protocol

Spoiler alerts, those nice little courtesy warnings before reviews.  How have they garnered such a negative opinion?

Simple.  People have become unreasonable in their demands for them.  If you were to tweet with a friend about your favorite decade-old movie, chances are that someone would take you to task for not issuing a spoiler alert.  The reasoning?  They might want to see it someday.  Big.  Whoop.  There are too many shows, books, movies, games, and other media to absorb them all.  The rest of the world isn’t going to wait until you’ve seen something to talk about nor are they going to put up a spoiler alert before every media discussion. 

On the other hand, revealing details of something recently released is a jerk move.  So, when do you need an alert and when is one unreasonable to expect?  I present the following guidelines:

1.  If the dvd/blu-ray/download/other non-theatrical format has been out over 6 months, no spoiler alert required. 

2.  Exception to #1 is if you are talking directly to someone whom you have prior knowledge hasn’t seen the story in question.  I.E. if you and your co-host review Upside Down on your podcast, no alert needed.  But if I ask my sister if she’s seen Firefly over Facebook, and she says no, I shouldn’t spoil it for her.

3.  If you discuss source material of an adaptation, no spoiler alert required.

4.  If you discuss a poster, trailer, or you are merely hypothesizing over what you think might happen, no spoiler alert required.

5.  If you discuss the merchandise, no spoiler alert required.

6.  If you are discussing a book under one year old, spoiler alert.

7.  If you are discussing a movie still in theaters, spoiler alert.

8.  If you are discussing a tv series, wait until 2 weeks into the summer hiatus to remove the alert.

9.  If discussing a periodical, like a comic issue, no spoiler alert is needed when the next issue hits the stands.

Any others?  Weigh in in the comments!

Phone Etiquette for Businesses

There are common rules for being polite on the phone. For some reason, all of these basics seem to go out the window when businesses get involved. Allow me to set a standard with explanations as to why each one is needed.

Let’s start with hold etiquette. If someone calls you, they are interrupting your time and it is perfectly acceptable to place them on hold if need be. If you call someone else, you are interrupting their time. There are occasionally good reasons to place the call recipient on hold, but it should never happen in most calls. Also, there is NEVER any reason to place someone that you called on hold within the first minute of the call. You should have taken care of those potential reasons before you call. This segues into the auto-dialer.

If I call a business, I expect to be placed on hold until a representative is available. However, if a business calls me with a recording that says, “please hold for the next available representative”, I’m hanging up. And for good reason. You don’t know what someone else’s situation is. I have kids. I have a government-supported cellphone limited to 250 minutes a month that have to last my entire household through talking to WIC, following up with potential employers, setting doctor’s appointments and receiving results, talking to creditors, etc. You are wasting my valuable time and I literally cannot afford it. I can’t afford to add minutes. I can’t afford to miss that call from a potential employer just because my minutes are out. Do not compound this. Also, by placing a person on hold as soon as you call them sends the message, “You are nothing to us. You are unimportant.”. If that were the case, why would you bother to call? Do not annoy the person you are calling. There is no good reason to place a person on hold as soon as they pick up the phone, EVER! Always have a human being ready to answer.

I’m not saying that a business can’t use an auto-dialer. I get the reasons for their existence. When a business deals in a high volume of outbound calls, it saves a tremendous amount of time over manual dialing and it reduces misdials. Fine. But the auto-dialer should NEVER dial until there is a representative available to handle the call. Ever. This seems to me to be the most common discourtesy foisted upon individuals by companies.

Don’t ever say, “this is not a sales call”. If you think that this phrase is necessary, it’s a sales call. I cannot count how many calls I have received with this phrase. Yet, I can tell you the percentage of those calls that turned out to be sales calls. 100%. Either the phrase is unneeded or you are starting off with a lie.

Netiquette

 

The internet isn’t nearly as untamed as it once was, but there are still standards that can go a long way online. Properly observed, these simple rules can prevent escalation.

      1. Know the difference between private and public. – Court rulings have set the precedent that there is no expectation of privacy on the internet. That being said, email is more private than Facebook, regardless of your privacy settings. Never hash out an argument on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media. If the other party refuses to keep it private, block them. After all, the only reason to go public with an argument is to feed on the drama. If the other party truly has a legitimate grievance, and desires a real resolution of the problem, they will be satisfied with email, text, phone call, video chat, or face-to face. There is no reason to air dirty laundry in public.

      2. Remember the concept of digital permanence. – I don’t care how bad it gets, your feelings now are temporary. Once something is online, it gets posted and spread around. You will not be able to track down and delete every copy, nor do you have the right to. You posted it in a public forum (the entire internet is a public forum whether we like it or not), therefore the public will consume it as they wish. Post with caution. You will never live down those nude selfies you put on Twitter or Instagram when you were drunk. That picture of your buddy from that epic party you put on Facebook? Yeah, you just damaged his future career for all time. How lucky he is to have a friend like you. Which of course leads to #3.

      3. Employers will see it. – No matter what settings, no matter what site, employers and potential employers can and will see what you put out online and they will use it in their hiring/promotion decisions. There are many ways that they can find out what you don’t want them to see, and most of them are legal.

      4. Employers, this is for you! – In spite of #3, it is ENTIRELY unethical to ask for Facebook passwords and passwords to other social media! The Terms of Service for Facebook and other social media sites often prohibit users from giving out their passwords. These Terms of Service can constitute a legal contract. It is unethical at best to require an applicant to violate a contract into which they’ve entered with another entity. Zuckerburg even considered suing employers using said practice. I wish I could find out how that went. I get that employers are trying to see the private posts to see if an applicant is putting up a false front, but there are better ways to do it. No employer EVER needs administrator access to an applicant or employee’s personal social media account. NO employer needs the power to edit an applicant’s nor employee’s personal social media account, nor the power to post as the applicant/employee, nor the power to change the password, nor in any way hack the account. It DOES NOT matter if these things are the intent of the company or not. These are the only things that a password can give you that other, more ethical means cannot. It is inappropriate, unprofessional, unethical, and ought to be illegal. Take it from someone who knows, it is better to be unemployed than to hand over the keys to your online identity. If you do hand over your password to an employer, prospective or otherwise, you would’ve been better of to hand over your house and car keys, wallet, checkbook, and credit cards! Any employer who engages in the practice has earned my disgust and utmost ire. There just simply isn’t ANY call for it.

      5. Tone does not always transfer well in text. – This can include sarcasm. Keep this rule in mind when posting and when reading. Give the other person benefit of the doubt. There are times when tone is obvious, but the obvious intent is not always the right one. Much of the offense caused online is unintentional. Keep your objections calm and reasonable. Keep in mind that not everyone will share your opinion. Given enough time, every person on this planet will offend everyone else. That is just part of the human condition. Also, beware of trolls. Trolls are people who intentionally post shocking things for no other reason that to stir up drama. Which introduces #6.

      6. Don’t be a troll. – No one likes a troll, not online and not in real life. If you wouldn’t say it to the face of someone who could smear you across the pavement, don’t post it online.

      7. Your social media accounts are your online identity. – Treat your username and password like you would your driver’s license, cash, credit cards, checkbook, social security #, etc. Your online identity is yours, DO NOT hand it over to someone else. It’s one thing to have your spouse check your email, it is another to leave it lying around. Also, you have every right to use the tools the social media site gives you. Don’t take any crap from people who get angry because you deleted a post/picture/video, removed your app, shut down your account/page/site, didn’t update, blocked them, deleted their comment on your post/picture/video/app, didn’t reply, etc. It’s YOUR account. Do with it as YOU wish.

      8. Never post about being out of the house until you are back. – This is more security than netiquette, and seems kind of obvious, but it bears stating. How many of your online friends do you really know? How many of them will repost/share/retweet? The truth is, you have absolutely NO idea who is reading what you put out there. Thieves do watch social media to find out when someone won’t be home. There was even a site dedicated to reposting such information, but I won’t post it here.

      9. Don’t sweat small stuff and repair the big deals. – Everyone will eventually offend everyone else given time. It is just part of the human condition. There are too many toes to avoid stepping on when you don’t count the unreasonable people of the world. If you do cause unintended offense, reevaluate what you are putting out there. Is the offending part of the message something you truly believe or intend to say? If the offense is worth causing (i.e. your expression of your pro-life stance offends a pro-choice abortionist), then stand by your message. If your offense is not worth causing (i.e. a joke you thought was funny spreads a misconception you were previously unaware of), then apologize as publicly as the original offense was caused, and remove the offending post. Yes, digital permanence means the damage was done. But consider this: posting an unintentional offense may be innocent, but leaving it up after the problem has been brought to your attention is an indication of apathy. Show you care.

      10. Don’t spam. – This should go without saying, but it still happens all the time. Yes, people are trying to make money on the internet, myself included. But there are times and places where advertising is inappropriate, like the comments section or your friend’s Facebook page. I know what desperate financial straits are like more than most. But that kind of advertising is neither an effective nor decent way to rectify the situation (much like the telemarketing I used to do, blegh!) No one likes spam and it’ll only aggravate people. The site/social media page/email address you’re posting on belongs to someone else, and it is their decision what they will or won’t advertise. Not yours. It’s just plain rude.

      11. Don’t tweet from the toilet. – Do I really need to explain this? Grow up.

      12. Don’t say things online that you never would in real life. – The perceived anonymity of the internet has resulted in rash actions and loudmouths who would cower if they were to meet the object of their rant in the real world. Not all interactions stay on the internet and no one deserves such rash treatment. Rule of thumb, never post angry items right away. Type them up and reread them. Then go get a snack. Reread the item when you return. Chances are, you’ll wind up deleting the angry item. If this is the case, then you can bet you would’ve regretted posting it earlier.

      13. Never use tl;dr. – I’ve ranted about that before.

      14. Read thoroughly before getting up in arms. – Remember Read Through and Thoroughly?

      15. Don’t be online while walking or driving. – Watch where you are going. I’ve been guilty of wandering my local library while riding their wifi, but driving with distraction(s) you are voluntarily adding to the task is unacceptable.

      16. ?

I’m leaving #16 blank for a reason. There are more common courtesies for the online world than I could list. If you can think of any, feel free to add them in the comments below.

The internet was once a wild west where people would run amok under the shield provided by the separation of our online and real lives. But as technology progresses, that gap is narrowing. Many of the common sense rules of the real world now apply to the digital one. When your online life and your physical one are compared side by side, who are you? Make no mistake, we can no longer wear two faces as our virtual and physical worlds become one. Don’t become a hypocrite.