Category Archives: Netiquette

Sexting….so so naughty

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I awoke to a glorious Sunday morning with Sydney sun streaming through my window. My pet pooch was stretched out in the sun. My Sunday begins perfectly.
Then a ‘ping’ on my phone. So I sleepily reach over with barely one eye open, and to my shock and discomfort, I have received my first sextext.
A friend, details to come, had sent me a picture of his naked body, all but covering his privates with one hand. The text accompanying the picture read “Do you want me to remove my hand ?”
Goodness me, was I quickly wide awake. Never had I had a sex text pic.
Now, this fellow, let’s call him Randy, has been communicating with me, on and off, for over a year. We’ve had coffee once, and met up for a drink once. I recall a goodnight kiss….but that was 7 months ago. Recently, about 3 weeks ago, we started communicating, purely by text, and maybe one or two text a week. Saying that it would be fun to catch up again, working the logistics, and some regular non-plussed banter. I think a week has transpired since our last communique….until this morning.
So, I tried to think lightly of it… I was deciding if I should goad him to remove the hand, as requested? Or should I feign shock and discomfort, or should I tease him.
As I’m trying to work out what to do, I realise that he’s sent the iMessage as a group message!!!!! I was now gobsmacked…. What a hussy!!!

Oh my goodness, what on earth has this world come to? That men are “hooking” up with several women at any given time seems quite common place…. But that should be discreetly done, non? And more importantly sharing their wares to several of us, just because he’s too lazy to send individual texts.
Then I thought that he may be useless on his phone and made a right old mess sending this to two women, and now needs to back peddle as fast as possible.

Unfortunately for him, I’m a tech nerd, and realised quick smart that he’d made the mistake and have told him that due to his lack of humility, I wouldn’t be communicating again.

To think, he’s 50 and behaving this way. What on earth are our teens doing? I feel the next article may write itself.

I don’t think I’m a prude. But I do think that if you’re going to take photos to send out, they better be cropped (all distinguishing marks deleted) and sent if you’re proud of the image.

(The photo accompanying this article is not the picture I received… I lack the gall of Randy…. Sorry ladies).

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Hey! Are you talking to me?

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So, earlier today, I was chatting on the phone with one of my dear friends Sarah H-W. Sarah and I were engrossed in interesting and poignant topics, the likes of which women get drawn to when they should be busy doing something else, but can’t resist stealing some time to get some “girlfriend chatter” into the day. This can be as simple as a ten minute catch up, to swap advice and stories and make practical plans for forthcoming events, or it can develop into an altogether lengthier conversation, that requires a cup of tea, planting yourself in your favourite chair, and solving all life’s mysteries…

Mid-way through our conversation together, Sarah and I found ourselves addressing a nasty habit that we would (naturally) never do to another. It starts off innocently enough, of course. You’re on the phone with a friend, or anyone for that matter, and you’re both entirely focused and engaged in conversation……or so you think. Then all of a sudden, you can hear through your earpiece the click clack of a keyboard being used. Sarah and I agree…. this is very very rude. How can it not be rude? It sends a clear message that the other person is multitasking, and not giving you the undivided attention expected when making phone calls.

Where things got more complicated however, was our discussion around what might be the appropriate way to deal with this situation. Should you call them on it immediately by saying “hello, I can hear you typing…”?! Or would this seem a strange admonishment to one who thinks it perfectly acceptable to type and speak at the same time. Are these sorts of people  a different species, or have they simply not yet read “etqt-modern etiquette” to realise that others might disagree with their behaviour?

It got us thinking, then: just what type of multi-tasking is acceptable?

We came up with a very short list: when kids are involved, it’s important to keep children’s safety as a top priority, but that does not include allowing your child to interrupt you during a phone conversation just to tell you they want you to make them a sandwich.

Perhaps also acceptable is to proffer a caveat before starting a conversation: as a chef, I’m often baking when my phone rings. I may be putting cakes in the oven, or watching chocolate temper… If I see that a friend is calling, then I’m happy to chat, but will preface the conversation that I might be a tad distracted due to the cooking.

But what about the phone call from the car phone? I still haven’t decided if it’s rude, or just practical, to take, or make, calls from my car phone. It does offer a bit of “quiet time” when my day can be so filled with other distractions at work or at home. But on the other hand, it also sends a message that because I couldn’t fit you into busy day, so I’m just cramming you in whilst I’ve got nothing better to do. Rarely do I have long phone calls with friends when I’m driving, but I am definitely a culprit in calling my parents to work out family logistics, and absolutely use car phone to make most of my life’s appointments, including hair salons and doctors visits.

So, how do these differ from the phone call when you absolutely know that the person is doing something completely distracting… Is the message they are sending you that they don’t care enough about you to show the right etiquette? Or are they just believing that the modern world is full of multi-taskers like them and that there is nothing impolite, inconsiderate or discourteous about such behaviour? Or maybe, they actually believe that you can’t actually hear them typing anyway?

As with so many etiquette conundrums, it seems, there is no absolute consensus of opinion around multitasking. However, after some research (and discounting the obvious solution – to buy a silent keyboard  which merely makes the culprit more clever but no less devoid of etiquette!) I discovered the following “Do’s and Don’ts” from Good Phone Etiquette in the Home Office

When the telephone is your business lifeline, good phone manners count.

By Laureen Miles Brunelli, About.com Guide

  • Don’t read texts, email or instant messages while talking on the phone. If necessary close these programs or turn off your monitor, so you aren’t tempted to read.
  • Don’t type while on the phone. Your caller may be able to hear you typing.
  • Don’t multitask excessively when talking on the phone. This would include surfing the web while talking. You may be able to do some simple tasks that don’t involve reading or writing, but it’s better not to.
  • Do try to keep the caller on the subject at hand. Your attention is more likely to wander when your caller goes off on a tangent. Tactfully guide the subject back and/orend the call professionally.
  • Don’t allow others to interrupt you while you are on the phone. Other members of the household should know your ground rules regarding interruptions. Put the caller on hold briefly (and only one time) until you can give him or her your full attention.
  • Do ask to speak to the caller at a later time, setting a time for when you or the caller will phone again.

Today’s article is co-written by Sarah H-W and Ursula Z.

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To tag, or not to tag?

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At a fun dinner party last night, the topic of Facebook was raised. My friend, who must remain nameless, was recounting how she had been photographed in an unflattering pose during a recent holiday with close friends.

She is an avid horse rider, and after a long ride, she was resting on a log, with her legs relaxed, but slightly laid apart, and her hair, though clean, had helmet head, her friends decided to take some photos, as souvenirs.

All of this did not bother my friend in the least, but what did bother her, is that on returning home from her weekend away, she switched on her computer and decided to see how the rest of her world was faring on Facebook, only to find this less than elegant photo of her, and her friends declaring how fantastic a weekend they had had.

Though my friend has a very relaxed nature, she was taken aback that such a photo could so easily be published, without her approval, let alone without her acknowledgement.

Her name had been tagged, so she did have the option to untag herself, but that left her wondering how many photos there were of herself that she didn’t even know about. And also why a friend of her would publish photos that were not attractive.

This got me thinking about how people do easily publish photos of friends, or family, without their consent, and even if we do tag them, we feel we have ownership of those photos, so have every right to do whatever we please with them.

I’m definitely a culprit of this behaviour. I’m always taking snaps with my iPhone whenever I want a souvenir. I also use Facebook as a means of sharing my life’s activities with my friends, family and their extended friends. I’ve set up the privacy controls to limit strangers from accessing my page and photos, but, to be honest, I don’t really know if the privacy extends to those who I tag in my photos.

So, I decided, that I’d better check the correct etiquette when it comes to publishing photos and tagging on my social networks like Facebook, tumblr, Twitter,  instagram, etc.

On doing research about Facebook, and how it differs to other social media, is that we consider Facebook profiles our portrayal of ourselves. We upload status’s and photos in the hope to define ourselves to others. We choose how much, or how little, we want to share. Some people like to share their social experiences, whereas, some don’t. Some, like me, have many friends in distant countries, and who like to publicise to their friends what’s going on, in a way to keep the geographical distance seem less distant. And the level of privacy varies amongst individuals just as much as any other factor with communication in our lives.

Having said that, it’s still considered bad form to tag friends in photos without their prior consent. If the circle of communication were closed, it might be more tolerable, but given that it’s impossible to contain the reach of anything on the internet, it is just considerate, thoughtful and yes, the right etiquette, to leave all parties untagged until they do so themselves.

I have just checked my daughters Facebook page, and it’s not surprising, but still disconcerting, to see how many of her friends (of which I have met about 25%), have tagged her in photos. Thankfully, I do know where she is at any given time (she’s 13 years old), so I’m never surprised by the parties, but I am surprised by the number of tags to other teenagers Facebook pages.

Tumblr and instagram posts seem to be driven by the account holder. Yes, comments can always be made that may upset you, but typically you are the one to instigate the conversation, so you have the control of what people see about yourself.

Twitter is more like a news feed, and also typically driven by you, the author. It does seem to be more about getting information about others, or just sharing snippets of information about yourself. Less weighty than it’s cousin Facebook.

Maybe it’s generational, and maybe there are variations to this issue that I need to consider. I’m sure that in a year of two, there will be media coverage of some famous person who’s privacy is invaded to such a degree that laws will be implemented to protect the rest of us.

Till then, keep discreet, stay considerate, and keep tuned in here. Above all, if your friend is in your photo, let them know, and let them tag themselves if they feel inclined.

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The tall, and fat, lies of online dating

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I don’t lie. Well, I don’t think I lie. I think I’m the type of person who would rather hear the truth, even if it’s bad, and then try to work through the pain and get on to finding the good things in my life. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that I don’t make mistakes or change my mind, or have whimsy. It’s just that I want to solve things fast.

This tends to be paradoxical to lots of the behaviour I’ve encountered during online dating. Some of it’s comical, some of it’s just plain ridiculous, but sometimes it’s so wrought with half truths that it’s nearly impossible to find a real person at the other end.

Online dating has been a huge learning curve for me, it really is like one of those things that you don’t have to do, but see others enjoying success through, so join the hopeful set, something akin to the jetset, all glamour and success, hiding all the hard work it took to get there.

These past three years I’ve actively managed my romantic life, and left chance and opportunity to a past life, I’ve discovered that there is, or at the least should be, very clear etiquette for online dating. Just as dating, new relationships, going on dates all have weird and wonderful rules of etiquette, there too are rules for successfully navigating through online dating.

Do not lie. Not telling whole truths is not the same as lying, but obvious lies about your age or height, or yes, your weight, are untruths that will come crashing down very quickly. I met a man who lied about his weight. The evening we met I couldn’t spot him at the bar, and called to find out if he was late, and he said that he was just walking through the door. I saw a man who was at least 20kgs heavier than his profile picture. I was more upset about the lie than the actual size of him. It made me think that he’s either deluded and still thinks himself thinner, or he’s not confident enough to be happy in his own skin.

The lies come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve heard of women who reinvent themselves. The haggard 55 year old woman who portrayed herself as a nubile career woman in her 30’s. She would meet up with her dates in skimpy skirts and high heel stiletto’s and work the sex kitten on her mate, so as to try to capture him through his libido. I do wonder how much success she has? Or even what she thinks success is.

It does make me wonder what we’re all looking for in relationships. But that has nothing to do with etiquette.

Like all romantic relationships, especially relationships that begin with people who don’t know each other well, it takes time to relate things to each other. Some things, most things, are easy to share, like all the practical things, where you work, and what you’ve done during the day. It’s the scary things that are difficult to share, and that takes time.

One of my family members is gravely ill at the moment, and each day, each week is a blessing to have. But for the first few months I didn’t share with my new partner about the gravity of the situation, as I wasn’t sure he could take the enormity of the loss I would have if I had to deal with the loss.

I did meet one man last year who was so accommodating, and always said yes to whatever I suggested, and then would let me down by not showing up, or canceling at the last hour. I found out that he was such a lonely person, with such low self esteem that he would rather have an appointment with anyone then to stay at home on his own. He was also never satisfied with the girls he met, so just kept lots of dates running concurrently. Not my idea of honesty. But it worked for him… not me.

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Emoticons, acronyms and communication between generations

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Emoticons, though considered a form of communicating your emotions, really are the very simple version. I can’t remember when I left a friend’s company with a simple happy (or sad) face to something she said. How very one-dimensional.

So when is it appropriate to use them, or more importantly, when is it not a good idea?

It’s simple really, only use emoticons with friends and those friends that understand them, ie, not all family members get them, even if they try, and your new boss definitely won’t think you’re serious enough for a promotion if you send him a happy face after a good business meeting. Unless of course you work for Mark Zuckerberg.

They should not be used for official work communication, either by email, or phone texting. Think of the hierarchy in your office. If you want to go up the business ladder, then do not send emoticons, or acronyms, to your superiors.

When mobile phone texting was first launched, the sender was limited to a maximum number of 260 characters (or thereabouts), and anything over that would be charged another unit by one’s mobile phone provider, so it was often important to maximise the usage by minimising the number of characters used. Hence, the creative invention of emoticons. Today, we have limitless texts, so it’s just really brevity or an effort to be funny to insert them at every text.

Teenagers use them amongst themselves with acronyms and all other sorts of abbreviations to speed up the communication process. It does make this mother of two teenagers wonder why they don’t just pick up the phone and call their friends. They remind me how old I am, and tell me that it’s not cool.

I’ve thought this over dozens of times. It makes me think of the language that we use in our lives. I believe that there are three languages… all english;

1) the language we use with our elders, with superiors, or professionally, ie always polite, respectful, without cursing, always taking care to be as articulate as possible, lots of active listening;

2) the language we use with our children and those we feel we need to be a good example, also polite, without curse words, with a tone of confidence, respect and often extolling the correct behaviour; some active listening, lots of “ah ahh”, “yes, I see”;

3) the language we use with our friends and peers, where obviously anything goes. Yes, the most relaxed form of communication. Some cursing may figure here depending on the individual.

I daren’t send emoticons or acronyms to my elders for fear to offend them if they didn’t understand them. I don’t send them to my children either, and ask them not to send them to me. I have told my children that as their parent and teacher of life lessons, I would like to give them the purest education that I can, that of common courtesy, and of course, etiquette, so I ask them to respect the roles we have, and within those roles learn, and practice, good communication skills. They also have all their friends with whom they can 🙂 or LOL.

Funnily enough, I rarely send emoticons or acronyms to friends. I do think it’s generational. I just seem to want to practice complete and coherent sentences with my friends. Nowadays, it’s easy to use your voice recognition to speak/write your texts for you with just a quick perusal to check mistakes. Oh, and I also do pick up the phone and enjoy having full conversations with them too.

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