What are the rules re: watching violent shows like The Walking Dead or Dexter on a bus with someone sitting next to you?
Here is the perfect bus seatmate: nonexistent, first of all. If he or she must exist, then it is best to be friendly but silent, awake for the duration if in the aisle or asleep for the duration if by the window, sitting calmly with hands folded in the lap. Never eating, never watching a thing but whatever is happening straight ahead. It is very annoying to sit so close to someone and be physically involved in that person’s activities without being allowed to participate in any real sense. Even if you don’t want to! I don’t even like this movie, but it’s RIGHT THERE! It makes people feel weird. But I know, I know: You’re going to do it. You’re going to be in the aisle seat watching a show, and I’m going to be in the window seat listening to music, constraining my bladder, chewing as slowly and quietly as I can, and pinching myself to keep from dozing off because I’m afraid that you’ll see me sleeping as an invitation to cut my head off and eat it.
But those are my issues.
You have the right to watch what you want to watch on your laptop, provided that you’re sitting next to an adult. If you’re watching something violent or otherwise potentially offensive (I swear to god if you’re watching graphic sex on a BUS, I will push you out the window myself), you should probably try to tilt your screen away from your seatmate and toward yourself. You can bring it up to your seatmate if you want (“I’m going to watch a sort of violent show, just…so you know!”), but you don’t need to.
Am I allowed to introduce myself or act like I know someone when I only know him or her from Twitter and recognize the person from his/her avatar?
This seems like one of the Great Concerns of Our Time, I think. Not “great” like actually important, but great as in all-consuming, quietly prevalent, insidiously anxiety-producing. Our children’s children’s children, when they read about us in textbooks, will read a sidebar about the Internet and what it turned us into, psychologically. “Many people of the digital era found that the Internet gave them a tremendous new fountain of worries, not the least of which was wondering to whom they should say ‘hi.’”
It’s not that this problem didn’t exist before — think of each time in school you met someone in class, then went a quarter or a semester without sharing a second class with that person, and during that time decided that it would be “weird” if you said hi in the hallways — but I do think it’s getting worse. We know a lot and sometimes it makes us uncomfortable. You know your picture is online and I know your picture is online, but do you know I know you know your picture is online?
We need to get over this or we aren’t going to ever make it out of here. Yes, of course, if you “know” someone from Twitter, you can introduce yourself. Knowing someone on Twitter means that each of you follows the other. It’s a bit weird we’re picking each other out of crowds based on half-inch avatars, but we have only two choices. We can either be middle-school kids and avoid each other’s knowing sideways glances, or we can be adults: We can say hello and laugh very awkwardly about recognizing each other from Twitter, and then we can go home and complain about how gracelessly the other person accepted our greetings.
What is the etiquette for flirting with emojis and emoticons? I flirt a lot by text, but I never know when to use a regular emoticon or when to use emoji. How do I use emoji to come across as funny and charming, but not "too immature"? Is there a right and wrong time for emoticons? :-/
“Emojis are the breasts of the iPhone” is a sentence that came into my head just now, both as a metaphorical answer I don’t necessarily completely understand, and as a phrase I’d really like to see on a stone tablet. What does it mean? Let’s figure this out together. Probably everybody likes looking at them, though enthusiasm varies. A little goes a long way. It’s weird if you show them to everyone constantly and never say anything else. Their existence certainly doesn’t hurt your chances, but if you rely on them too heavily, you will make people uncomfortable. And so on.
But let us put boobs to the side, for a moment.
I am pro-emoticons, especially in cases where a text’s meaning or tone might otherwise be unclear, or when one person is hoping to convey a little extra enthusiasm to his or her message’s recipient. Emojis, the smiley-face ones, can be used (minimally!) in these contexts with no complaint whatsoever from me. But if we are talking Deep Emoji, like the tongue and the wine glass and the blood-filled syringe, then you should exercise restraint at first. Some adults are going to think using these pictures in place of words IS immature, and other adults are going to send each other full-on emoji short stories. The way to find out which camp your texting partner is in is to start small: Add a funny, relevant item to one of your messages halfway through a conversation. If this is a person who loves emojis, you are definitely getting an animal face (or similar) back. If you don’t, then you could cool it for a while, I suppose. But I also think that you should be you. Emojis, though mysterious and amazing, do not have the power to make or break a relationship. At least not with anyone normal.
FWD: Halp! is a weekly advice column on how to behave like a person when using technology. Would you like said advice? E-mail 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