How Soon Do I Have To Respond To My Friend’s Snapchats?

Pretty soon.

How long do you get to open a snap from a friend, as opposed to a normal text message? What is your obligation to respond via Snapchat, if any?

Oh my god, I just realized that someday I could get an etiquette question about some website or app I haven’t heard of yet, and it will be so cool and underground that I won’t be able to Google it, and that will probably be the day before my online self dies of Internet old age at 29.

But…ahhh, Snapchat is not that app, and today is not that day. It’s kind of hard to assign rules and regulations to Snapchat like I would with other mediums, because Snapchat is sort of a weird world unto itself. But maybe that’s the most important thing to remember: Don’t expect people to treat Snapchat as they would more typical methods of communication, and don’t use it like one in the first place. (This, of course, is already happening. People! A snap of your smiling face with “He asked me out!” or whatever dumb thing is not a ~real~ snap. It is an unnecessarily frilly, inordinately stressful-to-read text message.)

You should open a friend’s snap within 24 hours, and you should also understand that a friend to whom you’ve sent a snap might need to time to look/reply in a Snapchat-safe zone. When you can open a snap, pick a time (and place) to open it in which you can also send a response back immediately, because there is NOTHING worse than seeing that a snap has been viewed and then not getting anything back…unless that snap was also screenshot(ted?).

My dad has a tendency to update his Facebook status with inappropriate information. Last week, for example, he shared that he was waiting with my mother at the OB/GYN. (My mother knew nothing about these updates. I heard from my concerned friends!) I’m wondering if you might have a couple of guidelines I could share with him to help him understand where “the line” is.

Wait, why are your friends Facebook friends with your dad?! I’m telling you, everyone, never be Facebook friends with anyone’s parents but your own — and even then, only if you must. I know it sounds like a nice thing to do, and I know that it IS a nice thing to do, but nothing good can come of it! Send them holiday cards, hug them when you see them, never friend them on Facebook, the end.

But anyway, on to your father. He’s so cute! I mean, frustrating, of course, but what is cuter than a dad typing a Facebook status or even a text message? “Literally nothing” is the answer. Still, you’re right that his enthusiasm, while adorable in theory, is occasionally inappropriate in practice. As requested, here are a couple guidelines you can share with your dad to avoid a repeat. The main one is this: As far as sharing family news, don’t put in a status update what you wouldn’t put in a family Christmas letter. (This means concrete NEWS — no false alarms, no listing of daily tasks, nothing extremely personal.) Another checkpoint is to ask oneself whether or not one would verbally announce the potential status to a crowd equal in size to the number of Facebook friends you have. (It doesn’t HAVE to be interesting, but it sure helps.) That is, after all, basically what we’re doing, right? Weird. We shout weird things to each other. I hope this helps your cute dad!

Image hate graffiti, author’s own. openclipart.org

I’m a temp, and part of my project is to email affiliated organizations to get them to turn in forms. I kept emailing with one of the guys (who I haven’t met) because I thought he would be a good professional connection. I tried to be open when he suggested meeting up for lunch, since I only email him about work, but then he started getting…creepy (using :p emoticons, making weird jokes, and asking about my name’s origin). I’m afraid I’ve unintentionally agreed to a lunch date. How do I avoid similar events in the future?

To answer the easiest/most depressing end of this question first, you don’t (really) avoid similar turns of events in the future. I mean. You could put “BE IT KNOWN THAT THE TEXT (AND BY EXTENSION, THE UNWRITTEN TONE) OF THIS ELECTRONIC MESSAGE (AND ALL THOSE HERETOFORE) SHALL NEITHER BE INTERPRETED AS FLIRTATION NOR AN INVITATION TO FLIRTATION THEREIN” below your name in your email signature, and STILL I think you would come across this problem again. You know why? Creeps will be creeps without your assistance.

I mean, no disrespect to your email game, but this is hardly even about you. We’re talking about a total stranger! He doesn’t know what you look like, or your age, or your relationship status. He knows you have a woman’s name, and that you’re friendly. So he asks you out to lunch, and it’s perfectly reasonable for you to think that’s professional. And then it devolves from there, creepily. (Lest anyone out there doubt the creep factor: When you know, you know.) He goes and whips out the goddamn tongue-face emoticon. There is no excuse for the tongue-face emoticon IN THE WORLD (except in cases where you and a fellow spy have established it as a code for, like, spilled secrets. Tongue-wagging! Haha. Right?), but least of all in the workplace. You were just trying to do your job and got e-slobbered on.

How you can get out of it, thankfully, is relatively simple: Don’t go. Send him a short email that says something like this: “Dear ____, Unfortunately I had a work/family/personal conflict come up, and I’m no longer able to make our meeting on ____. I’ve appreciated the chance to talk business with you, and thanks again for passing along the forms/contacts/whatever work info. Best, [your name].” In that email draft, there are three references to the fact that you view your relationship as strictly professional. If that’s not enough — if, unsurprisingly, he responds with something like, “Well how about drinks? :p” then you can either ignore it, or be more direct and write, “That would be inappropriate. Put your tongue away.” Without the last part, probably, but ugh, I wish.

FWD: Halp! is a weekly advice column on how to behave like a person when using technology. Would you like said advice? Email your questions to Katie.

Katie Heaney is a contributing editor at BuzzFeed FWD. She thinks you should have good manners, even on the Internet.

Illustration by Cara Vandermey

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