From ghosting to leaving WhatsApp groups, here’s how to avoid causing offence online
When is it OK to ghost?
In the context of online dating, ghosting is when you snub someone simply by ceasing to reply to their messages. One minute you’re happily flirting over text, the next you digitally disappear. Leaving someone in the lurch like this is always rude and can be quite upsetting for the person on the receiving end, so it is only acceptable in the event that they have behaved so poorly they no longer merit even the most basic of social niceties. In other cases, if you’ve got as far as exchanging phone numbers, you must actually break things off. Presenter and sex educator Alix Fox coined the term “caspering” – after the “friendly ghost” – to describe sending one last message before unmatching. Something along the lines of the classic “It’s not you, it’s me” is usually sufficient.
How do you laugh online?
In 2015, research by Facebook looked at how people communicated laughter on the platform. It found that “LOL” had fallen decidedly out of fashion, making up only 1.9% of the laughs counted. People who used LOL also had an older median age than those who opted for other digital laughter types. It’s perhaps better, then, to stick to “haha” – the most popular by far in Facebook’s study – or to use an emoji, such as the now ubiquitous “face with tears of joy”. Adding more “ha”s into your string of hahahas or using multiple emoji in a row indicates a more intense laugh, but any more than five of either begins to look rather maniacal.
How do you leave a WhatsApp group?
At some point, you will need to leave a WhatsApp group for the sake of your sanity. The hen-do group that’s still posting embarrassing photos long after the event, the group of former flatmates you haven’t seen since university and really don’t wish to share bills with again – do yourself a favour and Marie Kondo them from your digital life. If the group is still active, don’t just hit “exit” and bounce, as this can look rather abrupt. Bid your farewells first. Bear in mind that once you’ve left, you will not be able to rejoin the group unless invited by an admin, so make sure you mean it. If actually leaving a group risks causing offence, you do have another option: put it on mute.
How do you reach (and maintain) inbox zero?
Developed by writer and podcaster Merlin Mann, inbox zero is a triage method of dealing with email, such that your inbox never again becomes an unmanageable quagmire of unread messages. Getting to an initial state of inbox zen is easy: just hit “Mark all as read”. Maintaining this condition is harder. The key, says Mann, is only to check an email when you actually have time to do something with it – otherwise, you’ll just end up reading it twice. For a simple email, choose to either delete, delegate or respond immediately. For something that requires more work, either do it or defer – for example, by moving the message to a “to-do” folder. Just make sure you don’t defer everything…
How do you make the first move on a dating app?
Although naturally nerve-racking, sending the first message on a dating app needn’t be difficult. In fact, you can boil it down to a simple, two-part formula. First, reference something on their profile (in a positive way – no negging, please), then follow up with a question. Avoid commenting on a person’s looks, which can come across as sleazy; if you only have photos to go on, compliment their fashion taste or photography skills instead. Your question should be something specific to the individual. If they say they like romcoms in their bio, for instance, you could ask if they’ve seen a good one recently. This opens up the conversation and makes it easy for them to reply. Because no one knows what to do with “Heyyy”.
When should you like, share and comment?
On most social media platforms, the lowest-effort interaction is to hit “like”, which can mean anything from “Great job!” to “My condolences on the death of your goldfish”. Like as you would like to be liked: liberally. A comment requires more work than a like, and therefore exhibits a greater strength of feeling. Remember that comments are public; more personal remarks should be saved for private messages. Sharing a post is stronger than liking, as it means you are directly promoting it into your friends’ and followers’ feeds. Regardless what you say in your Twitter bio, a share without comment can only be taken as an endorsement, so always make sure you’ve actually read the post before you engage.
Is it acceptable to leave someone on read?
Leaving someone “on read” is when you read a text message but don’t reply. This wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that many messaging apps now let the sender know when you’ve read their message (on WhatsApp, this is done via the little blue ticks). As a result, you can’t pretend you just didn’t see it, and they will assume you are ignoring them. Avoid leaving people on read by only checking messages when you actually have time to respond, similar to inbox zero. If a response requires further thought, consider replying initially with something like “I’ll get back to you tonight”, so they know you’re not completely heartless.
What is the etiquette of video calls?
A video call can be absolutely delightful (Skyping with grandma!) or utterly soul-destroying (a cross-country conference call). Only insist on using video if you will actually benefit from the visuals; otherwise, stick to audio, which is less likely to lag and cause distraction. Let participants know that you’ll be using video before you start, so you don’t catch anyone off-guard. Once you’ve made sure your camera angle is reasonably flattering and people aren’t being forced to look up your nose, try to resist the temptation to keep staring at your own face. While on the call, give it your full attention; it’s quite obvious if you’re secretly browsing the internet or checking your Twitter feed at the same time.
When is it appropriate to use a gif?
When an emoji isn’t enough, say it with a gif. These short animated clips capture sentiment in a way that text struggles to, which makes them ideal for communicating with feeling. The most useful type of gif is the “reaction gif”, which usually depicts a character from a film or TV series performing an exaggerated emotional expression – Joey from Friends features a lot. Just choose one that best reflects your mood. Gifs are only really appropriate for informal contexts, such as messaging apps or social media. If your workplace is relatively casual, you may get away with using them on office messaging tools such as Slack, but refrain from sending gifs by email, which nowadays looks as outdated as sending an e-card.
When should you use Instagram Stories?
For many, Instagram Stories have fast become more important than the main Instagram feed; they’re now often the first thing people check when they open the app. Given that Stories posts disappear after 24 hours, they tend to have a more in-the-moment feel to them. Here, people expect to see your candid, behind-the-scenes-style snaps, not your perfectly curated #influencer shots. While you should limit yourself to just one regular Instagram post per day on the main feed, it’s more than acceptable to share up to around ten Stories posts in the same time-frame. Stories posts should always be shot vertically, and go easy on the filters and effects. Text captions can add useful information, but don’t expect anyone to read an essay.
Source: The Observer