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    Why You Should Never Play The Phone Game

    Because it's crap and you shouldn't take crap from anybody.

    What if you go to dinner with somebody who does that thing where they want everybody to stack their phones in the middle of the table and you're like NO; is there a good way to do that?

    [Horrified GIF] Oh my god. Stop going to dinner with that person? That’s my main answer. Stop going to dinner with that person until he or she has learned the error of his/her HEINOUS ways. I’m bossy (not like this, like this.) and I would never DREAM of telling my friends to hand over their phones, or any other personal belongings for that matter. That’s parenting. Are you talking about going out to eat with your parents? Even still. Stop going to dinner with them.

    The other thing you need to do is work on being assertive, because people don’t often test assertive people with bizarre/dictatorial regulations like this. This is shit, and don't take shit from anyone! If someone asks you to hand over your phone, you say, “Are you serious?” and give a look like this, and then say, “I’m not doing that.” And then put your phone away, and don’t take it out again during dinner. Both of you! Shape up!

    A few of my good friends like to e-mail on a daily basis with no particular point to the e-mail. They use email like a normal person would use G-chat or even texting! A typically email is "Hey, what's up. How's work?" What's up is I'm working and work is BUSY, just like it was yesterday! If I don’t respond quickly I get a text message saying, "are you mad at me" or "I sent you an email, did you get it?" I even got the cold shoulder from a friend when we were all out because "I didn't email her about the plans for tonight." (I had texted her that morning about what she was doing, and texted her after work on when and where to meet up.) How do I stop these crazy emails and make them understand that when I am at work I am working?

    Your friends are bored and they love you. That’s what you say out loud, three times in a row, to cool and calm yourself: “My friends are bored and they love me.” It’s just like Beetlejuice — your friends will materialize in front of you, and you’ll all hug, and they’ll never send you pointless emails when you’re too busy ever again.

    No, that’s not quite true. (Not at all true.) But you should say it to yourself before you go talk to them, not because you’re in the wrong at all (you are not), but because it’s good to understand their perspective and to approach them with good humor. They’re being a little … difficult, but they aren’t seeing it that way right now, so you have to work another angle. First, bring this up in person, the next time you’re all out together, because to email them about it would be to fight fire with fire. Haha what if you sent them a fax? Don’t do that. But it might be funny.

    Get your friends together and say something like this: “You guys, I’m so sorry I can’t keep up on your emails everyday, ugh. I WISH my job was to email you all day, really, but my work is so busy right now that sometimes the emails end up just making me feel bad because usually I can’t respond. Do you think maybe we could scale them back to like, once a week? Or obviously if something really crazy happens, like you have a midday hookup or something.” Add in parts about preferring texting/phone calls where appropriate! The only way to handle this is a confrontation, and I know a lot of people don’t like those, but they are the ONLY way to get what you want. Be assertive! That’s the theme of the day.

    I was recently chatting with a guy online and over a couple messages/photo creep sessions, I realized that I was 75% sure that we had gone out about three years ago, and after a couple of dates I had ended it due to a lack of attraction on my part. What's the best way to ask to avoid an awkward meet up situation, but still keep doors open in case it isn't the same guy? So awkward...

    This is EXACTLY like that Matthew McConaughey movie. Coincidentally, Every Last One Of My Ex-Girlfriends Is Dead. The one where he has to get over his womanizing ways to make Jennifer Garner fall in love with him again, by being visited by his dead ghost girlfriends? Who are all DEAD?? Are you sure this guy is alive and isn’t a ghost showing up to teach you a lesson about … online dating? o_O

    OK, here’s what you’re going to do: first, dispense with the idea that, if you want to be 100% sure that this is the guy (and if you don’t want to just run in fear without ever knowing for sure, which is what I would do), there isn’t going to be a solution that is completely without awkwardness. It’s weird! Online dating is WEIRD. So many pictures of headless torsos!

    Send this guy a message like this: “Hey, are we sure we don’t know each other? You look kind of familiar, now that I think about it. What’s your name?” If it IS the guy, this could make him realize you’re you, and then either not respond (fear) or laugh about it in a message back. If that doesn’t happen, and he stays aloof/clueless, I’m hoping knowing his name will be enough to bump that 75% either up or down enough that you know whether or not you’re recycling your own old dates. Good luck!

    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

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