Do I Have to Hang Out With My Friend’s Awful Partner?

Advice does not apply for significant others that are actual demons [Via aPublic Domain Review]

Advice does not apply for significant others that are actual demons [Via Public Domain Review]

We got this question on Twitter:

If my bf and I want to go out with a friend of ours, how can we not invite his gf who we don’t like?

(Reminder to send us your etiquette questions on Twitter @ucourtesy or email us at

Victoria: Okay, and she followed up that she cheats on him and stuff too, making her legit bad and not just like, annoying. So I think this is a verrrrry tricky situation where in general, it’s going to be REALLY hard to avoid hanging out with a friends significant other.

Jaya: Absolutely.

Victoria: Especially for a couple because you can’t then frame it as “boys night” or whatever.

Jaya: Yeah, if it’s single friends that’s one thing, but saying “I can bring my SO and you can’t” is unfair. The only way I see it sort of working is if the three of them were all friends before, so it can be like “the three of us” instead of “couple and a friend.”

Victoria: Yeah, which is sounds like they might have been.

Jaya: But still tricky

Victoria: Yeah, I think you could do it OCCASIONALLY but not every time.

Jaya: And if he says “can I bring my girlfriend” you either have to say yes, or say no and risk him being really mad.

Victoria: Yeah. I mean, one way might be to get tickets to something and have a third and have there be no way to get a 4th. But that’s a lot of hoops.

Jaya: Yes, and then you risk him being like “not without my girlfriend” if it’s something she would normally wanna do/if she wants to be involved.

Victoria: Yeah. I mean, the one thing you could do if you are brave and talk to him. And be like, we love you and want to hang out with you, but we can’t stand Girlfriend. But you take a serious risk of losing your friend.

Jaya: Though I think there is an underlying thing here–if you see someone legitimately treating your friend badly, like cheating on them, do you tell them?

Victoria: I think you can! And should.

Jaya: Only if you’re really really sure.

Victoria: I mean, again, you do risk them ending your friendship. Yeah, for sure, you have to be absolutely sure.

Jaya: Also like, you know it’s cheating and not that they just have an open relationship or something.  Because if you’re like “she made out with this guy!” and he’s like “I know and it’s fine” then you’re in the place of being a dick.

Victoria: And like, if he knows about it and forgives her, then there’s also not much you can do there.

Jaya: Exactly. It’s tricky, and I think you can only really bring up not liking her if he asks first. And even then, be gentle, say something like “I’m not her biggest fan, I’m concerned with the way she treats you because of xyz” but if he says he wants to be with her say you support him and just want him to be happy.

Victoria: I mean, hopefully, he would also read social cues and realize he’s not getting as many invitations as he used to

Jaya: Yes. I think you can slyly keep inviting him to stuff and making him ask if he can bring his girlfriend, if you want to be passive aggressive about it, which I always do

Victoria; Hahahahah, love it.



Twitter RTs Are Not A Matter Of Etiquette

I can’t believe I’m actually writing this.

Last Wednesday, Vulture published an essay asking “Does Retweeting Praise Make You A Monster?” It outlines certain rules that have gone unspoken on the social media platform Twitter, but that everyone seems to get very opinionated about, from “don’t steal jokes” to “if someone follows you, you must follow them back.” But one idea that a number of people seem to think is a massive “breach of etiquette” is retweeting praise about yourself.

Author Adam Sternbergh thankfully concludes that it’s a bit of a silly idea, but not before spending a couple thousand words asking various writers and Twitter personalities about the subject. The statement that caught me was by novelist Gabriel Roth, who said:

“I think of Twitter as a cocktail party, and a certain amount of subtle bragging and self-advancement is acceptable at a cocktail party but if you show up and just stand there holding a big poster advertising your book, who’s going to invite you back? Imagine meeting someone at a party who opened a conversation with, ‘This fellow Larry Smidgen from Minneapolis says my book is laugh-out-loud funny — but also surprisingly moving!’”

What struck me is that I’ve heard this comparison of Twitter to a cocktail party before. People have expressed joy at it being a place to mingle, to make jokes, to meet new people and talk about new ideas–that sounds like a great cocktail party to me. But I don’t quite think all the rules of a cocktail party work. After all, in a cocktail party it’s harder to enter or exit a conversation. There’s body language to pay attention to. There are things, for better or worse, that you would say on the Internet, at arms-length from any immediate reaction, that you may not say to someone’s face. It may feel like a party sometimes, but it’s also an entirely different way of having a conversation.

For instance, you can’t retweet anything in a face to face conversation.

Despite having social media platforms like this for well over a decade, many people still operate under the impression that people are always their true selves online. That you are speaking to a person, and not that person’s crafted, representative self. How distant that crafted self is from their true self is different depending on the topic and on the person, but the performative aspect requires at least a second of thought and craft to whatever message one writes, whether it’s about your baby’s first tooth or your new book. People also forget that this is fluid. Twitter may be your personal confession booth one day, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be your publicity platform the next.

Editor Kurt Andersen said in the piece that “it’s a matter of not overdoing it.” I admit having been annoyed when my feed is filled with 50 retweets from the same person, whatever the subject, just as I would be if someone dominated the conversation at a cocktail party. The difference is that online, I can close the tab.

What You Can and Cannot Conduct Over Social Media

Good lord just don't be this person [via Jezebel]

Good lord just don’t be this person [via Jezebel]

It’s easy to use social media. It’s too easy. I can think of at least three friends with whom I make plans entirely over social media, because I do not have their phone numbers or email addresses. I know, I’m a millennial, go ahead and yell at me or whatever. [Ed note: Millennial used to not show up under spell check, and now it does. Progress.] We’re not here to judge you for how you get in touch with your friends. However, there are some interactions that should not be conducted in a public place. Let’s go over some. (And remember, most of this varies depending on who you’re connected with. It may look different if you’re friends with 2,000 people v. 20).

1. Don’t ask someone on a date– This doesn’t even have to be a romantic date. Any question of “when are we hanging out” should be taken to a private conversation, whether it’s Facebook messaging, DM on Twitter, private snapchat (???), anything. The whole world shouldn’t see you debating whether you can make the 8pm showing of Lucy or if you should go to the 9:45pm one just to be safe. On Twitter you might be able to get away with this more, since if you message someone only the people who follow both of you can see it, but after a while it’s probably easier to switch to email anyway.

2. Don’t RSVP on someone’s public page- If you’ve been invited to a Facebook event or something like that, RSVP through that page. Don’t write out why you can’t come on the host’s page, because maybe they wanted the event kept private, and definitely don’t RSVP on social media for an invitation you got in the mail. Similarly, don’t try to host a party through your public social media pages. Saying “come to my house for a BBQ on Saturday” will either get you hundreds of people asking for your address, or you having to explain to a bunch of strangers that you don’t actually want them there. YMMV depending on privacy settings, etc., but if you have 20 people you want to invite, just invite them.

3. Don’t ask people to be part of huge life events– It’s already known that it’s a bit tacky to talk endlessly about your wedding or baby or other events on Facebook, considering you don’t want to broadcast a party that most people won’t be invited to. In that same spirit, do not ask people to be part of these events in public. Recently, my husband showed me something that popped up on his Facebook feed, where one girl wrote on another’s wall, asking her to be a bridesmaid, and naming three other women who were already on board. Would you have this conversation in a room of 50 people with everyone listening? Then don’t do it on Facebook.

4. Don’t post disgusting pictures– Pictures of you and your new baby? Awesome. Picture of your new baby covered in its own vomit? Maybe not.

5. Don’t post anything super judgmental- As usual, this is a case of “know your audience,” but posts where you’re judging a large group of people on their actions, or acting really sanctimonious about your own, are just inviting trouble. Even if you think you’re really close to all your Facebook friends, you never know what someone else’s personal life is like, and you may inadvertently be insulting a good friend.

6. Don’t be passive aggressive– It gets really, really tempting to subtweet and hint at some larger drama in your life, and you may think that by avoiding naming names, you can get away with this. But chances are, someone in your feed knows who you’re talking about and will figure it out. Plus, etiquette usually dictates you confront anyone about personal issues directly and as soon as possible, so you’re probably not even letting this problem escalate to the level where you’d need to do this, right?

Don’t worry, there are still plenty of things you can do! For instance, you can post fun or interesting articles, promote yourself, create events or just make a lot of bad jokes. You can actually keep in touch with people and have funny and inane conversations with people you live thousands of miles away from.

Should We Even Bother With Social Media Etiquette?

What Would Tom Do?

What Would Tom Do?

I keep thinking that there needs to be a guide to social media etiquette, because there are some people that are just insufferable, but I can hear the backlash now: “If someone’s annoying just stop following them!” “You can block people you know.” “I found a complicated way to mute everything someone says but still make it look like you’re listening.” Yes, we all know that social media is pretty optional and if you don’t like looking at a hundred photos of your elementary school best friend’s new baby you can just unfriend her. But social media has also wedged its way into our lives to a point that I felt actively left out of my chosen career by not being on Twitter. Since many of us feel strong societal pulls to engage in social media, let’s see if there are ways to make it a slightly nicer place.

  • Try not to post all the time– Of course one of the main reasons everyone is on Facebook or Twitter is so we can share articles, photos, and thoughts with each other, but you never want to clog someone else’s feed. This happens on Twitter a lot, especially when someone not only posts a lot, but retweets every single response they get.
  • Don’t get into arguments on Twitter – This sort of goes for Facebook, but at least there you don’t have character limits, and can let your arguments be as wordy and thought out as you want. I have never seen an argument on Twitter turn out well for either party, no matter how intelligent the argument, because there is just no way to achieve any nuance in 140 characters. You’re going to come off sounding like you don’t know what you’re talking about, even if you do, so just avoid it. No one ever thinks “wow, he’s super smart, but I wish he would argue more on Twitter.”
  • Don’t be a mommyjacker– This doesn’t just go for moms! We all know that person who turns every post into something about their baby, but people do this for all sorts of topics and it’s frustrating as hell. Try not to comment on photos or statuses with something completely unrelated to the topic, or to make it all about you.
  • Ask permission before tagging photos of people/quoting people– I know you desperately want to post that photo of you and your little brother in the bathtub together for Throwback Thursday, but not everybody wants everything they do online. I’ve been really frustrated when people post something on Twitter that I’ve said to them in private, or posted tons of unflattering photos from a drunken night out. And yes, you can always untag yourself, but the photo is still there. So maybe send your friend a quick text asking them if it’s okay, or don’t get mad if you post something and they ask you to remove it. This goes double for posting photos of babies and children, since they can’t really tell you they don’t want their photo broadcast to the world.
  • Don’t be on your phone/computer/tablet all the time– This expands a bit to general social etiquette, but the number of times I’ve been out to dinner and something funny happened in the conversation and someone whips out their phone and says “omg I’m tweeting that” is entirely too many. This is not the fault of social media or millenials or anything–my grandfather was the type to constantly make us re-enact candid moments so he could take photographs, instead of just living in the moment. But if you’re with other people, try to stay engaged with them, instead of turning to your phone or tablet or camera.

What happens on social media that frustrates you? Tell us!