Chapter One Out & About
Digital Man 3
Artful Conversation 14
Elevator Etiquette 22
At Table 24
Comings & Goings 29
Family Reunions 33
Amen Corner 35 Digital Man
Those who balance avatars with their actual visage at least embody the modern half of gentleman. On the leading edge are those chaps who properly integrate technology into daily life and haven’t uttered the terms “cellular telephone” or “World Wide Web” since Windows 2000 ruled the roost. There is a necessary distinction between digital and analog selves: your virtual image, like hygiene, can’t be ignored, but if stripping away your snazzy updates and smartphone leaves you bland, ’tis time to unplug and recalibrate. If everyday’s but an orchestrated online striptease, vid by pic by clever quip, then you’ve forgotten how to enjoy this thing called life. The Bullhorn: Social Media
Social media casts a wide data stream ideal for news blasts (“Nate’s taco truck spotted”) and easy favors (“Need jumper cables”). It’s California-wildfire fast for announcing bacchanals, get-out-the-vote rallies, or celebrity obituaries. Standard PR, crowdsourcing, and level 1–2 thanks can live here too. Intimate affairs, hushed family news, and level 3+ thank-you’s (last night’s bail money, borrowed summer home), however, require more pointed notice.
By now, even your parents have skin in the digital game, but establishing an account and managing it successfully are as different as do-it-yourself versus pro-grade websites. Sterling posts that hit in the late evening are lost in next day’s feed, but coffee-hour weekday updates and cocktail-hour weekend posts feed the e-churn. Unlike online dating, where specificity aids in compatibility, social sites beg for discretion, particularly when prospective employers monitor the Web for unwise blurts and XXX party pix. To post something spicy without leaving a trail, consider the Ghost Post, whereby you submit a comment to an existing thread and then hit Delete; involved parties will see it, but later-comers don’t get the privilege. Caginess aside, even if your avatar is a cartoon, post at least one up-to-date photo; otherwise, people presume morbid obesity or flapping linguine hair.
To keep your online rep in winning form, mind your Facebook manners when facing these common scenarios:
Congrats Fix: Attaboy alerts about promotions and graduations are welcome good news, but artists, buskers, and budding virtuosos should create dedicated Fan pages to avoid turning friends into mere fanboys.
Sympathy Fishing: Reportage of maladies, breakups, and sick parents eventually cross the line from human connection to irksome bathos. To commemorate the dearly departed, a post-interment mini-elegy beats live blogging the ICU flatlining.
Mundane Overdose: A high percentage of posts devoted to caffeine, TGIF riffs, and the current heat wave don’t pass WGAFF (Who Gives a Flying Fig) minimums.
AM Radio: Hardcore partisan crossfire devolves quickly into vitriolic cable news patter.
TMI: Customize certain status/alibi updates to office colleagues only (“Pig roast sounds divine, but stuck finishing a big project”) or exclude second-rate chums when broadcasting private party particulars.
Digi-Litter: Sending virtual daiquiris or clogging the news feed with Mafia Wars updates secures your place in the Hall of Lame.
Chat: It’s never impolite to ignore a Facebook chat request (“Hey, are you there?”). On the other hand, quality posts earn high marks:
Provocative conversation starter: “Can I tap that?”
Quirky current events: “They repealed the pasties tax . . . strip club cover charges expected to drop by 20 percent.”
Witty innuendo: “Jenna is finally stimulated by Bush’s package.”
Quickie Pix: Impromptu mobile uploads, foodie porn (splendid dishes, wine labels) trump edited albums posted a month later. Proud parents should post their offspring’s cuteness judiciously, though new moms are exempt from the Baby Pix Overload Doctrine.
You’re It: Besides friends, occasionally tag random objects for comic effect. On an empty shot glass: “Jeanine’s wits last seen here,” or on an overexposed tramp stamp: “The crack of Dawn.” Friending
Like sex on the first date (or Arizona’s border crossing law), some F’bookers have an ironclad stance regarding unsolicited new friends. Neither the No-way-José nor the All Aboard policies are ideal, so be selective without squelching serendipity. Requests sent postmidnight indicate a horny hubby pining for exes or a dissatisfied babe wanting out of the ’burbs. When making requests to relative strangers, include a memory jogger to reestablish an out-of-the-blue connection.
Managing secondary, tertiary, and quaternary social circles in real life would require endless coffee dates and happy hours, but social sites forgo face time for frequency. Over time, certain people are LinkedIn, while other obligatory friends and distant family are “hidden” from your newsfeed. In the end, your dearest friends are often the ones you encounter the least on social media sites, justifying the notion that “digital” isn’t that far from “disposable” in the dictionary.
Incidentally, unless you’re married, engaged, or living in sin, the relationship button is irrelevant, though gals might employ it freely to sidestep unwanted suitors. There’s no need to befriend someone you’re dating until you’ve made it through the first fight—or unless you aren’t yet old enough to rent a car. Tweetiquette
Twitter, Tweethearts, & Tweeps. Like the lyrics of a country song, sometimes 140 characters are sage poetry, other times it’s 129 %$#&*!@ characters too long. Think of Twitter as a mutated, post-orgy offspring, a cross between a bullhorn, a bathroom stall, a pulpit, and a haiku. The bullhorn angle means you can amplify your voice; the stall part of it renders any responsibility for profundity inapplicable; the pulpit aspect gives your passion a channel and audience, all set to a laconic haiku beat. Thus, the most successful tweets are those that boast a specific, empowered, and amped-up nugget worth lingering at a urinal for. Savvy marketers might exploit Twitter as another venue for self-promotion and celebrity spin, but others, especially Tehran protesters, see an important tool and hear tweet music in the grassroots symphony of flash mobs and hashtags. To get started, tout your one-liner chops by tweeting about a niche topic or major live event (Super Bowl, season finale) and see how many retweets and followers you earn.
Clandestine touch: Broadcast anonymously with an untraceable Twitter alias that gives you bandwidth to vent, share, or gossip (but don’t tweet me on that).
Excerpted from The Modern Gentleman, 2nd Edition by Phineas Mollod and Jason Tesauro. Copyright © 2011 by Phineas Mollod and Jason Tesauro. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.