How To Handle Twitter #FollowFridays With Dignity

There’s one simple rule: Don’t #FF anybody with more than 10,000 followers. Also, how should you deal with the aftermath of a horrible drunk text you sent? posted on

What’s the proper etiquette for using/receiving #FF on Twitter?

Bleh, #FFs. Is there an uglier convention on Twitter? All those hashtags and handles presented on a platter, like so many sandwich ingredients without the bread. (The bread in this elegant metaphor is the context, or the reason you’re making these recommendations — the thing that makes this tweet digestible to the masses. I don’t know, I’m just hungry I think.).

Obviously #FFs have their place, and I am thankful for them because they’ve led me to several relatively unknown (i.e. <2000 followers) users, who are often some of the weirdest and funniest people on Twitter. This, I think, is how #FFs should be used: to introduce each other to our lesser-known idols. I hesitate to put a firm follower count on this, but I am also me, and I just love rules. Let’s say we cool it on #FF-ing people who have more than 10,000 followers, all right? I’d like to make it lower, but I GUESS that would be unfair to people who are just starting out on Twitter and need to hear about funny/interesting tweeters in the 5000-9000-follower range. There is no need for anyone to #FF anyone above that, and if you’re #FF-ing tweeters with >100,000 followers, you’re really just brown-nosing and/or Captain Obvious. A #FF for Rob Delaney (who is, admittedly, great) is a little like saying, “Hey, there’s this really great band I know that I think you might like. They’re called The Rolling Stones.”

As for receiving a #FF, what you should do is say thank you! In a reply or a DM, either way. You do not, however, have an obligation to follow that person back, or to return the #FF favor. Nobody should be #FF-ing another person more than once (Do you hear me? I mean it. WE GET IT, you are such good friends with all the cool Twitterers), so hopefully you won’t find yourself the awkward recipient of dozens of unreciprocated love letters in the form of #FFs. If you get a #FF from someone you DO like and follow, then sure, someday, you should #FF him or her back! Win friends and influence people, etc.

How do I identify inappropriate work flirting in office email/chat? I don’t see my (much older) coworker in person that frequently so it’s hard to tell, but I want to know if I should say something to him. I don’t want to make false assumptions but it SEEMS a little untoward at this point.

Does he use this emoticon “;)” or this emoticon “:p” or this emoticon “:x” or this emoticon “:8”, or any other emoticons whose meaning you’re unsure of, but that look gross if you tilt your head to the left? If so, you definitely have legitimate reason to feel creep shivers. To any well-meaning, appropriate, older coworkers out there, who are looking to avoid having your chats confused for sexual harassment: avoid emoticons like the plague.

Obviously, inappropriate flirting can be done without emoticons, too. (Though can emoticons be done without inappropriate flirting? This remains to be seen.) Probably the easiest/only way to decide that a conversation is inappropriately flirtatious/sexual is if it makes you feel uncomfortable. That’s it. If you feel that your coworker is being suggestive and you don’t like it, you should say something. I know that that’s a little scary, and your fear about false assumptions is justified in that he probably WILL say that he “didn’t mean it like that” or “was only being friendly.” This could be true, but if he’s done enough to make you question propriety, it probably isn’t. What’s important is that you let him know that his behavior/language/flirting isn’t okay with you. Have this conversation over chat or email and then print a copy to hang on to. Having a record that says you asked him to stop will be helpful to you if, god forbid, he doesn’t. Here is the EEOC page about sexual harassment for further reference. Best of luck.

Is it better to try to take back an embarrassing drunk text by writing some sort of apology/excuse the next morning, or is it better to pretend it never happened and/or move to Siberia?

I think you should leave. I think you should put a hunk of bread and a hunk of cheese in a bandana, tie it to a stick, and start walking. (Important sidenote: why do bread and cheese sound so unreasonably delicious when described as being in “hunks”?) I think you should jump onto a moving train and follow it out west. Do you have overalls? Wear those. At the first stop, jump off the train, rub your hand in some dirt, and then rub that hand on your face and in your hair. Find a piece of hay to chew on. Get back on the train. Share a piece of bread with the tiny orphan boy in the corner of your car. This is really the only way the journey to redemption begins.

Don’t drunk text anyone, ever! I know you’re probably like, “Well, ok! Easier said than done, MOM!” Listen: Just because you’re acting like a child doesn’t mean I’m your mother. Let’s both take a couple of seconds to cool off. OK? OK. Drunk texting is the rightful territory of the very young. Like in The Lion King? You are Scar, and Simba is every 19-year-old. I know you feel all entitled to this land but it is NOT YOURS. If you have reached or passed your twenty-third birthday, you should know better than drunk texting. You are either drinking too much or thinking too little, and it’s probably both. There is always a moment of recognition before you send that 4:00 am, overly capitalized, slur-y text message — ALWAYS. College-age kids can press send and deal with the consequences. Adults can — and must — backspace that mess into extinction. Don’t pretend we don’t have free will.

Now then, if you speak with this person regularly, you should send a second, apologetic text message the next morning. “I drank too much, I’m sorry. That’s embarrassing. I hope I didn’t wake you”: something like that. If you don’t speak with this person much/at all, and he or she hasn’t responded by noon that following day, stay silent. Find a pool of water you can examine your reflection in. Stay there all day.

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 writer and volunteer text message analyst living in Minneapolis. She thinks you should have good manners, even on the internet.

Illustration by Cara Vandermey

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