tech

How to Behave Yourself On the Internet in 2014

Rule 1: Never point Snapchat at your boobs or balls.

Joel Golby

Joel Golby

Some computers, which can be used to access the internet (Photo by Andrew B Myers)

On Sunday, "The Snappening" apparently happened, meaning your junk – and the junk of hundreds of thousands of others – is probably now being gazed at sexlessly by a load of wily hackers. If you don't understand that sentence, here's a brief explanation: a number of Snapchat users downloaded third-party apps that save Snapchats (thus negating the entire point of Snapchat), then some hackers claimed they'd stolen 200,000 of those saved images and are now saying they're going to upload them all to a searchable online database of human junk.

Some are saying the whole thing was actually just a hoax, but the point here is that it's 2014 and technology is scary and confusing and junk is just flying left, right and centre. So, in this climate, how do you keep people from seeing your tits or balls? Or even just your pubes? And while we’re at it, what are the politics of taking a dick-pic in the first place? Or accepting a friend request? Or buying crap on Etsy?

The internet has muddied the waters of social etiquette, so, like a sewage treatment plant, I am here to clear them.

WHAT IS SNAPCHAT AND HOW OFTEN DO I POINT IT AT MY TITS OR BALLS?
Snapchat is an app teenagers use to sext, and that my housemate uses to take selfies of himself while he goes jogging. You should never point it at your tits or balls, unless you are supremely confident that no data leak will ever happen again in the future of all human civilisation.

DO I SPONSOR MY FRIEND’S MARATHON?
I am extremely in favour of not ever giving anyone money to run a long distance if they get a medal at the end of it. Because here’s the thing: most everyone who does a marathon does it because they like running already. Do you not like running? Then why are you doing a marathon, you idiot? I’m not paying you for that!

There's a school of thought among my people – those who eat an entire pizza in one sitting without ever pausing to talk or wipe their mouths or, in some cases, breathe – that nobody who does a marathon has ever actually been asked to do a marathon; that they're doing it as an excuse to break out the £140 trainers they got their foot scanned for at Runners Need. So until I too am sponsored for doing things I like – inactivity, wearing jumpers, slowly unpacking an iPhone from its box – I will not be sponsoring any marathon runners.

An example of what you might come across on Tinder

DO I TRY TO FIND TRUE LOVE ON TINDER?
If you were asking me a year ago, I would have said, "Sure, loser." But it is 2014, and Tinder is now a platform for people to say jokes, take screenshots of their jokes and then hope their Tinder joke screenshots get picked up by Metro.

Do you think you could ever truly love someone who does that? Exactly.

DO I BUY SOMETHING FROM MY FRIEND’S ETSY SHOP?
a) Is your friend making, like, a cushion, or an iPad case, or something that is of vastly lower quality than some cheaper, mass-produced thing you can buy with actual money in a normal shop? Then: no, don't buy something from your friend's Etsy shop.

b) Is your friend making something that is better or at least as good as something you can buy in a shop? Then: maybe. It all depends on whether you need beaded jewellery or a small felt bag full of dice.

c) But wait – is your friend making tie-dye scarves, or lampshades made out of a baked beans can, or something equally useless? Then: no.

What are you going to do with a baked beans lampshade? Come on. How is a tin someone’s gone at with a screwdriver suddenly worth £8? Think this through.

A photo you might see appear in your timeline were you to accept a Facebook friend request from some random weirdo

DO I ACCEPT THIS RANDOM FACEBOOK FRIEND REQUEST?
I’d say so, yeah. I’d say pretty much always. The worst thing I've ever known to happen from accepting a Facebook friend request is that you have to see someone you don’t know post blurry photos from a nightclub a few times before you put them on mute. Live your life. Live a life full of adventure. Say yes to some weirdo wanting to be your friend on Facebook. Who knows, maybe you work with them and you just didn’t know it.

DO I “LIKE” SOMEONE’S “PROFESSIONAL” PAGE ON FACEBOOK WHEN I’M ALREADY FRIENDS WITH THEIR PERSONAL PAGE, MEANING I ALREADY SEE IT EVERY TIME THEY POST A LINK TO THEIR NEXT OPEN MIC NIGHT OR LATEST BLOG POST?
No.

WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEBODY SENDS ME A JOKE ON TWITTER AND I FIND THE JOKE AMUSING BUT DON'T HAVE ANY RESPONSE TO THE JOKE?
You favourite the tweet the unanswerable joke was in and move on.

HOW MUCH DO I CHIP IN TO MY FRIEND’S KICKSTARTER?
Kickstarter is where finely polished blocks of wood go to be turned into acoustic iPhone stands, and where your friends will pester you, on the daily, to pitch in £30 for their new "Reggae – FOR KIDS!" album, with backer rewards including "our undying thanks!" and "a badge". These are the three amounts you can feasibly donate to your friend’s Kickstarter:

1) £25, which you pledge when you absolutely know with utter confidence that the project will never make its pledge goal, meaning you will never have to actually hand the money over, but it still looks – for all intents and purposes – like you tried.
2) £25, because for whatever reason you don’t like real books that are actually available in real shops and so you want to read an 800-page wholly unedited memoir printed on thin, thin paper written by your friend.
3) £0. It is completely acceptable not to believe in the people you know.

DO I ADD MY FRIENDS ON LINKEDIN?
No. Do not add anyone on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is for people who own multiple outfits that are suitable for job interviews, and who don’t feel their heart beat loudly in their throat when they check their bank balance. It’s not for you.

(Photo by Anthony Topper via)

DO I RSVP TO A FACEBOOK EVENT?
I RSVP’d to a Facebook event once. It put a handy note in my iPhone calendar and then I went to the party and it was fine. There were snacks. It was fine.

Also, though, I got a hundred million life stories masquerading as excuses from the infinite number of people who were invited to the snack party but ultimately couldn't make it.

"In Ubud that week, and the six weeks leading up to it! Have a snack for meeeee!" No.

"We were going to drive down from Coventry for it, but we’ve got an ill nan up here so best not unless she starts spraying out both ends like a Catherine Wheel!" No. 

It is simple: do not RSVP to Facebook events. This seems to keep the notifications in check. Admittedly, I forget to go to about 60 percent of the things I'm invited to now, but I’m willing to accept that trade-off just so my phone doesn’t buzz every other second.

I JUST WENT TO A PARTY AND MET A LOAD OF TWITTER PEOPLE. HOW MUCH OF MY MORNING DO I SPEND TWEETING THEM TO TELL THEM HOW NICE IT WAS TO MEET THEM?
0 percent. Just do a vague tweet saying what a fun night you had and they can assume it was meant for them.

DO I "LIKE" A PICTURE OF SOMEONE’S RECENTLY DECEASED RELATIVE ON INSTAGRAM?
Sort of tricky, because you don’t want to be like, "Hey, I endorse this death." But then you don’t want to ignore the fact that someone died and someone you know is sad about it on Instagram, so play it by ear. One definite, though: don't ever say anything like, "Damn, you had a pretty sexy grandpa." People don't like it when you do that.

SHOULD I SLIDE INTO YOUR DMs LIKE, "YO, HERE’S MY DICK"?
If we've learned anything from the picture that showed up on Ian "Beefy" Botham's Twitter account, it is this: no.

@joelgolby

More stories about the internet:

Is My Internet Generation Finally Coming Unstuck?

Meet the 'Tulpamancers': The Internet's Newest Subculture Is Incredibly Weird

Internet Porn Ruined My Life 

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