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Three Tips for Good Netiquette

Overwhelmed by the online world? Fear not: help is at hand with Rhodri Marsden's guide to Netiquette.

Social media is firing too much stuff my way. I pop to the shops, come back and find a stack of information that demands to be caught up with. It's like a menial job with long hours that I can't quit and I don't even get paid for. Help!

Pose this heartfelt plea on social media, and people on social media who wouldn't dream of quitting social media will tell you to quit social media. Thanks, guys. We're encouraged to make connections, to friend and to follow, and are rewarded by having information hosed into our faces in a way that feels like we can't opt out. But the opt-out is the only weapon available to us, and we have to embrace it. It can take many forms, from the subtle (unfriending, unfollowing) to the drastic (flinging all your electronic devices into a skip). The most useful thing to remember is that we don't need to know everything. So operate on a "DON'T NEED TO KNOW" basis. Treat social media like a room at a party. If it's interesting, hang about. If it's not, go and sit in the garden, either literally or metaphorically. It's unlikely that you'll miss anything of consequence; yes, you might be desperate to catch up with information, but if information is that important, it'll catch up with you.

Someone is pretending to be me online. I think it's meant to be a joke, but it isn't particularly funny - and worse, they can't even spell. Should I ignore it or try to do something about it?

Impersonation used to be the sincerest form of flattery (unless you were pretending to be a policeman, in which case you faced criminal charges). But the internet changed all that. Today, impersonation can rank anywhere on the scale of annoyance from tedious prank to career-threatening menace, and it's usually perpetrated by anonymous cowards who are sufficiently bored with their own lives to attempt to live someone else's instead. Criminal charges can still come their way if they break laws relating to privacy, defamation or fraud, and most web services have anti-impersonation policies in place that can get their accounts terminated. Otherwise, it's a case of hoping they get bored with maintaining a web presence for another person. I mean, it's enough of a drag to maintain one's own.

There's an event listed on Facebook that I can see a bunch of my friends will be attending, but I don't appear to have been invited. I've been stewing about this for a week. Imaginary arguments play out in my head. Am I losing my mind?

You've succumbed to a bout of fomo, or fear of missing out. Is this a snub? Or a simple administrative error? That's the burning question, and your options appear to be: a) assume it's a snub and get depressed, or b) assume it's an administrative error and risk embarrassment when you turn up in elaborate fancy dress and are refused admittance by a grumpy bloke manning the door in a suit and dark glasses. These issues aren't new; they've been going on for as long as people have had parties, ie since about 1962 or so. But the internet rubs our noses in it. Remember: the notion that everyone else is having a better time than us is something that exists entirely in our own heads. (Probably.)

Via New Zealand Herald

This article was featured on the New Zealand Herald on October 17 2014 and was written by Rhodri Marsden.Critical Thinking Companion