New Rules for Online Living

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By this point in history, everyone should have a reasonably strong grasp of the basics: Don't TYPE IN ALL CAPS, don't forward chain e-mails without checking Snopes, and don't leave your ringer on in a movie theater. But technology keeps advancing, creating new social dilemmas and potential faux pas. Here now, as a public service, are 25 new rules for modern living.

Some words are better left unspoken.
1. Unless you're under 12 or just being ironic, keep a lid on the Internet slang. (Especially "clever" alternative spellings like "gurl," "w00t," and "fanbois.")

2. Never use your Facebook wall to show off your engagement ring. It's bad luck, and we can spot Cubic Zirconia even at low resolution.

3. You are not your kids. Don't use the latest cute snapshot of them as your profile pic.

4. Whether you're an empty-nest ex-hippie treehugger or an empty-nest ex-hippie teabagger, not everyone on your friends list shares your mind-crushing anxiety about wireless radiation or immigration enforcement. Take it down a notch, Dad.

5. No matter how off-the-hook last night's party may have been, commenting about it on the party host's wall afterward merely invites disaster. Chance are, not all of the host's friends were on the guest list.

6. You are not your spouse, child, or BFF. So why are you posting comments from their Facebook or Twitter account? Get your own account. They're free.

7. "Send to a friend" links on Websites can be convenient for the sender but annoying for the recipient. Ever heard of copy-and-paste?

8. One-word tweets: Don't.

9. Try reading at least the first paragraph of any blog post before crafting a hot-headed screed about how dumb it is.

10. Never post a comment shorter than your signature.

11. Leaving the default "Sent from my iPhone" or "Sent from my BlackBerry" signature in your phone's e-mail app should be a punishable offense. Those companies get enough free advertising as it is.

12. Using your e-mail app's built-in "stationery" feature has never been a good idea. It was annoying in the 1990s, and it's deplorable now.

13. If you haven't posted an update to your blog in months, don't bother logging on to put up a post apologizing about it. Nobody cares--not even you, apparently.

14. There's no excuse for spamming everyone in your contacts list with 20 megabytes of vacation snaps. That's what Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa are for.

15. When sharing pics on social sites (see number 14), take a few minutes to weed out the blurry shot of your left index finger. And we don't need 72 nearly identical shots of Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower, either.

16. Ringback tones are hereby banned. We don't want to hear a badly compressed clip of 50 Cent's "In Da Club" every time we need to call you.

17. We shouldn't have to tell you that playing music loudly on your phone while riding a train or waiting for the bus is just plain jerky. Get some headphones, dude.

18. Got a personal message for a friend or relative? Send a message. Facebook walls are not private.

Facebook Wall

19. When you get an e-mail that you think is particularly amusing or wise, delete it immediately without forwarding it to anyone.

20. If you tag me in a picture on Facebook, I better look damned good.

21. A little short-form banter on Twitter is fun, but take it to e-mail or direct messages after three tweets.

22. Ostentatiously flaunting your new iPad/iPhone/Droid in public isn't impressing anyone. You know that any fool can buy one of those at the store, right?

23. We know good domain names are scarce these days, but is not an acceptable option. For that matter, doesn't inspire confidence either.

24. Some terms make more sense online than IRL. Saying "Let's take this ‘offline,' because we don't have the ‘bandwidth' for it right now" at a meeting just makes you sound like a dork. For that matter, saying "IRL" is pretty lame, too.

25. Useless acronyms FTW.

Of course, we know these 25 rules aren't nearly enough to counter every annoyance and irritation of modern life. If you've got a few you'd like to enact, let us know in the comments.

Robert Strohmeyer is executive editor at PCWorld. He tweets as @rstrohmeyer.

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