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    How Much Can You Divulge About Yourself Online Without Getting Fired?

    Not very much. Plus, finding true love on Twitter.

    How much is okay to divulge on a personal Tumblr/Twitter when I work in a somewhat reserved/conservative setting for my day job? I like having my online presence, but I also want to keep my job.

    Are you trying to suggest that it might not be prudent to keep some things about yourself to yourself and off the Internet? I’m afraid I do not understand.

    No, ok, this is really a major “it depends” type-question. It depends on your job, what you mean when you say “divulge” and “personal,” and who you’re asking. If you were to ask my parents, say, two years ago, they would more or less say: “None of it is okay. Employers WILL find you. They will see your pictures and your words, and they will be deeply disturbed, and you will be jobless for eternity. You think you can protect yourself from the Internet, but you cannot. If you must have a Facebook, you should at least make it completely empty. TRUST NO ONE, etc.”

    Now my parents both have Facebook, sooo.

    Employers can certainly get at a lot of information, and you shouldn’t put anything online that would definitively get you fired. Knowing what that is is the hard part. (For instance: Tumblr has taught me that repeated references to drug use is not a dealbreaker in all professions!) To be safe, you can always use a pseudonymous Twitter/Tumblr handle. Unless you’re working for the FBI or CIA, that should, in most cases, be enough. But ultimately, if you have to question a post or tweet’s consequences, and you care about your job, keep it private. Maybe there’s some sort of bound paper device you could transcribe your feelings in? I feel like I heard something about that once.

    How do I get a Twitter flirtation to transition into a potential IRL romance?

    What Twitter base have you gotten to with this person? Mutual favoriting: first base. Mutual retweets: second base. Mutual replies, starred by the other party: third base. (When they’re just starring some dumb thing you just wrote in response to them, they are either slightly enamored OR just appeasing you while trying to cut down on the number of replies in their timeline. Love: it’s always possible you’re totally goddamn wrong.) Shared DMs about how great the two of you are: that’s a home run. You should definitely be in home run territory before thinking about the next step.

    Lest anyone I’ve run the bases with become concerned that I think they’re in love with me, let me be clear that fangirl/fanboy DMs and other sycophantic Twitter behavior do not NECESSARILY indicate attraction (because, after all, your face is so little in your avatar, or isn’t a face at all). It’s merely a good start. This person, at least, thinks you are worth communicating with, which I’ve somewhat recently decided is an important qualification your love interest(s) should have.

    So! Let’s say you’re there, you’re writing DMs feverishly and endlessly, there is an element of flirtation to them, and you have more to say than a series of 140-character messages will awkwardly allow. In a DM, write something like: “hey, can we talk more about [this topic]? In a human way? What’s your email?” Ideally, that topic will just be something safe that the two of you like, like a TV show or turtles – don’t try to bring up FEELINGS in DMs. True love cannot be gauged via Twitter, it just can’t. Try to get your conversation over to email, and go from there. Then, you get to try to assess another person’s interest in you by the length of time it takes them to reply, the time they reply, and the number of times they write “you” or “[your name].” Good luck, it’s impossible.

    I have a friend who is in the habit of texting me, and then when I respond very shortly after, I wait eons and eons (like, HOURS) for them to reply back to my response. Can I kill her?

    Far be it from me to condone murder, or violence in any shape or form, which I am certainly against in every context without exception, but if your friend was walking alone through the jungle and stepped down on the kind of mossy trap doors jungles are known for, and s/he fell onto the sharpened steel spikes below, would it even make a sound?

    When the scenario you’ve described happens to me (because I, too, have been cursed with one of these so-called friends), my skin crawls. It crawls right off my body, around the room, shrieking. I just lie there, bones and muscle, silent and infuriated, until my friend finally f#%*ing responds and my skin can calm down and wrap itself around me again. It is gross and annoying and such a complete waste of time for everyone involved.

    It doesn’t make SENSE, friends! If you send a message to someone — a message that requires a response — you are presumably hoping to GET that response in a reasonable timeframe. So you keep your phone at your side! What human in this day and age doesn’t have his or her phone within arm’s reach for at least 22 out of every 24 hours? OK, there are exceptions. Farmers, astronauts, umm…deep sea explorers. You guys are off the hook. But if you are an adult with a phone, and you’re trying to get in touch with someone, you need to have the decency to be ready when that person has the courtesy to respond to you. Things come up, but if this is a habit of yours, it’s not about those things. It’s about you.

    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