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What's The Right Way To Send A Mixtape In The Age Of Spotify?

Is a carefully crafted Spotify playlist acceptable? Or does it have to be on a CD? Plus, precisely how to tell if someone likes you with a Facebook friend request.

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What's the proper protocol for making somebody a playlist or mix in the age of Spotify everything? Is a CD acceptable anymore? HOW DO I EXPRESS AFFECTION WITH MUSIC?

One thing you definitely do NOT want to do is make a crush-y poppy indie mix CD, put it in a bubble envelope with a carefully written little note, and mail it to a boy in another state who a) has given you VERY little encouragement on the flirtation front, b) has been known to perm his hair, on occasion. I can only IMAGINE that that would be really embarrassing for you. I can imagine that, years later, your friends might still send you pictures of him, with the subject line reading only “HAHA.”

It’s so hard though, right? Holding yourself back when you feel VERY SURE that this particular combination of Belle & Sebastian and, I don’t know, Lionel Richie will finally be just the thing to make someone fall in love with you? Choosing music for one another is one of the sweetest ways we flirt, but it’s also one of the riskiest. You are potentially handing over your own blackmail. You are possibly subjecting yourself to mockery by the mix’s recipient AND all of his/her friends. Do you know how many times I’ve sat in cars, mouth open in horror, listening to terrible mixes boys made for my friends? WHY IS THERE SO MUCH DAVE MATTHEWS?

Know what you’re getting yourself into. When you’re as sure as you can ever be about these things, yes, make a CD. CDs have to be acceptable because I am up to my eyeballs in blank ones and there is nothing else I can do with them. As long as laptops have CD drives, they are acceptable! I’m not one to think, like, the older the audio format, the better (people obsessed with vinyl: ugh, SHUT UP), but I DO think that gifts should always be tangible if possible. A Spotify playlist just doesn’t show the work you put into it. It’s also easier to screen-cap and send to your friends in an email, subject line “What. The. Fuck.” Just keep that in mind.

I have a coworker who misspells the same words (i.e. “definately”) over and over again in work emails and chats. We get along okay but I wouldn’t call us friends. Is it ok to say something about it?

What if every time a grown adult made a spelling error in written communication, a little alert was sent to the government, who added it to that person’s file and counted up the totals, and when the person reached 50 errors, s/he was entered into the Hunger Games by the government? I would have liked that movie a lot more if it had this element, I think. It’s not a good real-life idea, but a girl can dream.

There is just no excuse for this sort of thing anymore. Even if your work email and chat system don’t underline misspelled words, this coworker HAS to have used any of the many programs or email services that do at some point in his/her life. S/he has to know, on some level, that these habits of hers are sick AND wrong. It’s just that your coworker’s sense memory has adapted to remember certain mistaken keystrokes when typing out certain words, and sense memory is hard to break. (I…don’t know if this is the real reason, but as I typed it, I became convinced that it is.)

You can fix bad spelling in friends with constant derision and mockery, because they’re your friends and you love them enough to harass the shit out them when they have the nerve to do something like spell a word wrong. With a coworker, it’s best to be subtler. You should still try, because in doing so you’re actually providing a public service and preventing this person from embarrassing him/herself in front of a higher-up. Here is my Minnesota Nice solution: repeatedly write corrected versions of the word back to your coworker. Her: “Definately.” You: “Haha, yeah. Definitely. DefinItely.” It’s like hypnosis, pretty much. Soon enough, s/he’ll start echoing the correct spelling back at you, and you will have learned the power of mind-control.


Does the amount of time you wait to add someone on Facebook indicate how much interest you have in the person? For instance, if I meet someone at a party and less than 3 hours later she's added me is there a higher chance that she may be interested in me as more than a friend? If she waits a day or more should I assume she only wants to be friends?

Oh, this is my FAVORITE game. Let’s talk about the evidence. Did she make frequent eye contact with you when you met her? Did she touch you unnecessarily? Did she try to charm you by telling you excruciatingly embarrassing and personal stories about her adolescence, or is that just my trick? (Works absolutely none of the time!)

If you noticed that none of the above questions mention Facebook, that’s because it’s usually hard to tell from a person’s Facebook activity alone whether or not she’s totally in love with you. I mean, she IS definitely probably interested in you as more than a friend. She isss oooOOOOoooO! I really think that might be the case. But a quick turnaround on Facebook friending is what Law & Order tells me is called “circumstantial evidence.” Like if someone were trying to convict her on kidnapping charges (of your HEART, zing!), the fact that she merely reached out to the victim at some point wouldn’t be enough to book her. It wouldn’t help her case, though, either. She’d stay a suspect.

I think that the significance of one’s waiting period for Facebook friend-adding is probably shaped like an upside-down bell curve. If it’s done in the first 24 hours after meeting under at least partially flirtatious circumstances, I think you can be reasonably confident that that person is at least interested in finding out if she really DOES want to kiss you on the face. The middle period, which is between 24 hours and two weeks, doesn’t mean all that much. It’s not a bad sign, or necessarily an indication that the person only wants to be friends – it’s just more neutral. But then if s/he friends you AFTER two weeks, it becomes really significant again. That means that s/he has been thinking of you constantly for two weeks and can no longer bear the thought of not knowing what your favorite quotations are. Creepy! But nice.

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