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    Is It Okay To Give Away My Old iPhone As A Present?

    The ethics of slightly used gadgets as presents. Plus, what do you when you send someone a highly insulting text message they weren't meant to see?

    What are the rules of giving my older gadgets (i.e. older iPods, iPhones, etc.) away as presents when I buy the newer versions?

    New electronic devices just shouldn’t come out as often. There, I said it! I know I’m on a tech blog and everything but like, how much difference between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5 can there REALLY be? (*appalled crickets*) Why are all our greatest tech-genius brains focusing so much effort on making our iPhone screens just a little bigger when Willy Wonka’s teleporter prototype has been sitting around unattended to since 1971? And what about pillows that videotape your dreams so you can watch them like movies? “Pillodeos.” Whatever, we can brainstorm the branding later.

    Since you, unlike me, seem to enjoy the battle to stay current with your electronics, giving away the castoffs (like your essentially UNUSABLE four-month-old iPad) is a very nice thing to do. We should all be so lucky to have friends like you! Seriously: be my friend and mail me your tech toys. I would say that the main rule here is to only give these things away as informal gifts, on days with no special occasion, just because you're being generous and like a person. Anything you’ve previously purchased for yourself cannot be given as a present for any officially recognized holiday (i.e. Christmas or a birthday), and that’s true even with cool things like iPhones. This is not to say that “formal” gifts have to cost money, because they don’t! They can be handmade and wonderful. They just can’t be things originally intended for someone else (you). Even if it’s an iPod. Even if it’s a Pillodeo.

    Is it at all acceptable to send a wee private Facebook message to somebody that you like, but don't really know, but have found out his/her name through the sign-in sheet at a lecture…I really wish this was acceptable and not creepy. :(

    The cutest part of your question is “somebody that you like, but don’t really know.” Don’t “really” know? Or, given that you have only JUST learned his/her name, don’t know AT ALL? Giiirrrrrrrrrlllllll. I understand you. If the proper path to love is getting to know someone BEFORE you fall for your idea of him/her, then I am always taking the road less traveled by. It has made all the difference, in that it is really dimly lit and spooky and embarrassing and, well, if most people don’t go this way then there is probably a reason for that.

    The problem with contacting a stranger is that the way he receives it is totally dependent on what he’s like and what he thinks of you when he checks out your profile after reading your message. You two don’t know each other, so you have no basis with which to judge your own chances or reception. There IS a chance that he (or anyone) could receive a message like yours, be completely flattered and smitten, and then fall in love with you. But that chance is very, very small. More likely, he will think it’s creepy. More likely than that, he’ll think it’s nice, but not worth pursuing or responding to. He might have a girlfriend or a boyfriend, you know! Strangers do that all the time, it’s awful.

    I think Facebook gives people the idea that it’s ok to contact strangers, because profiles are usually pretty easy to find and tons of us have “friends” that we don’t ACTUALLY know. This might be a mistake. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable using the cell number of a stranger (and if you’re wondering, you shouldn’t feel comfortable about this!), then you probably shouldn’t feel comfortable messaging him on Facebook. At LEAST not while you aren’t even fake Internet friends. But look, you’re in college, right? College is a great venue for amateur spy work. Give him a code name (to be safe), enlist the information-gathering services of your friends, and spend your weeks agonizing over how to meet him the good old-fashioned way: off Facebook.

    I accidentally sent an incriminating email to my professor instead of my friend with the same first name. The email was complaining about the way grading was done in the class, basically. MAJOR PROBLEM. What’s the best way to … take back an email or text sent to the wrong person, generally? And in this case? I know nothing will undo the damage but what will get me CLOSEST?

    One time my so-called best friend sent a text message to this guy I liked, only it was ABOUT him and supposed to be sent to ME. She made up some story and said the text was meant for her boyfriend, and it seemed like humanity wasn’t doomed. Then she DID IT AGAIN!!! So I did what I had to do, and I locked her up in a makeshift jail cell below the floorboards. Sometimes I let her send text messages, but only if she dictates them to me and we triple-confirm the intended recipient. Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to manage their own communications, and you are one of those people.

    I’m not going to spend too much time chastising you for what you’ve already done, because it’s likely that you rightfully already wish that you had never been born. I wish that too. But also: these types of things don’t happen to people who look over their emails and texts before sending them. We are all in a rush at least some of the time. But if you can’t afford to have one of your contacts potentially start hating you, you can’t afford to skip the once-over.

    The best way to take back your email is a time machine. These aren’t available by me, but I don’t know where you live. (The future, hopefully??) The second best way to “take it back” is to send your professor another, intentional email. Apologize. Don’t make excuses! Don’t ask him to delete the email without reading it, because it’s in HIS inbox now. He’s definitely going to read it, so you’ll just look silly/desperate asking him not to. You should say that you were careless and unprofessional, because you were. You should say that you know that if you have problems with his grading, you should have taken them up directly with him. Apologize a second time, and promise him that you’ll do your best to make up for this error by being a hard-working and communicative student. Then go wail about it to your friends. IN PERSON. Just to be safe.

    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