Is having an email signature, of any nature, automatically dickish? What about using “sent from my phone” type signatures, too?
In The Psychopath Test, author Jon Ronson paraphrases Dr. Martha Stout, who says that if you ever start to worry you’re turning into a psychopath, that means you aren’t one. I think the same is (usually) true of dickishness. The fact that you’re worrying about it is a good sign it probably isn’t happening.
This is, of course, dependent on what exactly it is that you’re putting in your email signature. Just your name? A little lazy, perhaps, but fine. Your name and your job title? Normal! Your name and your job title and your awards and some nice things various ex-boyfriends said about the luster of your hair? That would be weird — and yes, dickish! Email signatures are best left to the professional realm, where using them lends a degree of credibility to whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish in that email — getting interview access, applying for a new job, etc. Think of it like flashing your ID: If nobody asked to see it, proffering it to every person you talk to you get might come off strangely.
As far as using “sent from my phone” goes, I don’t like when people use rudeness disclaimers shortly before doing something rude. Here is a pop song example: in “Tonight I’m F$%*ing You,” Enrique Iglesias sings, “Excuse me, I don’t mean to be rude, but tonight I’m f%&*ing you. Whoa-oh!” I mean, what?? Enrique! You’re doing the exact thing you’re trying not to do, pretty much immediately.
“Sent from my phone” is the Enrique Iglesias of email. Just because you’re warning us you might be rude — and asking us to excuse possible undue brevity and intolerable bad spelling — doesn’t mean it’s okay to do it. I understand that some of you are, like, SO busy, and have to send emails from your phone constantly, but also: It just isn’t that hard to look over what you’ve written and make sure it’s coherent. I don’t care what you say. You have enough time to cut out “sent from my phone.”
I get random LinkedIn requests from people in my town who are only slightly/sort of/not-at-all in my field of work, but the connection makes sense in some other way. Should I accept them because I may come across them later in life, or just ignore and move on?
Everyone knows there aren’t any prizes for most friend requests sent via the most social networks, right? Everyone knows no number of Facebook friends and Twitter followers and LinkedIn connections will keep you from dying, right? Everyone knows that sending out friend requests at random gets you talked about over drinks (“You will not BELIEVE who friended me yesterday.” “Shut up, I already don’t believe it. Tell me. SHUT UP.”), and, on occasion, written about across the whole Internet, right? RIGHT?
I’ve said it before: nobody should be adding “random” people on LinkedIn, or Facebook for that matter. Where it gets a bit fuzzy, though, is in defining “random.” You use the term, but then you say the connections “make sense,” at least in one way or another. These people may not be in your field, and they may never be in your field, but is there a reason to believe one or both of you could benefit professionally from keeping in contact with the other? If so, I would accept them. Who cares? It’s LinkedIn. You’re not posting selfies or relationship updates on it. It’s just work. Don’t add anyone you don’t want to add, but there probably isn’t much harm in letting in the odd acquaintance every now and then. Just to feel alive.
I recently discovered via Facebook that a friend of a friend (whom I did not know) died. A bunch of people were writing on his wall (ie: “RIP [heart]” “OMG, too soon, you were so young” “What?? What happened?” “Where is the funeral so I can visit him one last time?” etc.) This seems weird. Should a Facebook wall become a memorial/message board upon someone’s death? Would it be rude for a friend or family member to disable commenting on a deceased person’s Facebook or cancel it altogether?
Leave it to Facebook users: If there’s a way to verbally throw up all over any area of the site, they’ll find it. How else to explain the people who comment on each other’s break-up relationship status updates? How else to explain 8-paragraph comments from people you haven’t seen or talked to in five years? “Less is more” is an aphorism most Facebook users have never heard of.
The phenomenon you’ve described is not exactly the same as the examples I’ve just given, though it is related. People grieve in different ways, and sadness makes people do weird and uncomfortable things sometimes. Expressing sympathy is tough: people can have very different ideas about how best to give (or receive) it. Mostly we are all doing our best, and sometimes our best is not all that great.
I really do think, in general, it’s weird to write on the wall of someone who has passed away, UNLESS you are a family member or friend who is passing along information about memorial services or related information. It’s just uncomfortable! There’s no other way to say it. But in cases where the account has been memorialized — something that is, I think, totally legitimate for a family member (or, in some cases, a close friend) to do if s/he feels that it is best — I do understand it. The memorial Facebook feature, at least, makes the deceased person’s account more private and more of … well, a memorial. Especially for younger people, I think the desire to use Facebook memorials as a sort of virtual gravesite visit — to express condolences when you don’t know how else to do so — makes sense, even if the old person in me is disheartened by the intangibility (and public-ness) of the gesture.
Katie Heaney is a contributing editor at BuzzFeed FWD. She thinks you should have good manners, even on the Internet.
Illustration by Cara Vandermey