Archive for the Etiquette and the Modern World Category

Etiquette and Facebook Part 9 – Not Now, Not F*cking Ever!

Posted in Etiquette and the Modern World on 13 July, 2008 by sonal

I know, I’ve covered this vaguely before but today it deserves a whole post of it’s own. If you would turn to the front page of your Facebook account …

I know at least three of you just ducked and a couple others are possibly gaping at the screen wondering if the person who sent this friendly message with invitation has burst suddenly into flame by the sheer power of my mind … she can only wish …

We all have one, some us more than that. How many of yours have tried to friend you? Welcome to the fucked up minds of your childhood tormentors.

Just what, after over 20 years of no blessed contact, is she thinking?

Oh Sonal, remember when you had those lovely braids … your hair was so long
(down to my knees, do bear in mind that I’m only 5ft now, so imagine how teeny I was back then – cute, I tell you!) that your mum plaited them into two little loops on either side of your head … so handy to yank really hard and then run away. Remember those times? How you cried and yet couldn’t do anything because my mum was your teacher, who you really liked but didn’t think would believe you if you said anything against me … oh the dilemmas of seven year olds (don’t worry you only looked like you were four). How we used to laugh. And then one day to stop the pulling your mum put your plaits around your head like Princess Leia (that’s what the boys called you when she did that) and we though it would be fun for you to be our little horsie … like Rainbow Bright, but you couldn’t be Rainbow Bright, you had to be the horse. Or my little pony, if you prefer … not that my little pony did brown ones as we would often remind you, silly Sonal. Ah fun times!

Why, WHY, WHY do you think I would ever want to be friends with you?


Etiquette and Facebook Part 8 – From the Mailbag

Posted in Etiquette and the Modern World on 12 June, 2008 by sonal

Until I have a regular internet connection, it’s going to be a touch quiet on the blog front this week (I’ve got a week long pass at a local internet cafe which doesn’t have access for my laptop, so I’m stuck on PCs that are still running IE6 … for starters, god bless tabbed browsing and next, good grief, there are a pile of hoops to jump through with PCs … yes, I’ve fully converted to Mac, I didn’t think I would, but I’m starting to grumble about the mere seconds longer it takes me to do things (like open new windows and navigate through applications) so it must have happened along the way) … so this week we turn to the mailbag which is quietly moulding due to neglect.

Today, boys and girls, we hear from regular correspondent and gold star wearer (thanks to sorting out the international enrolment of her flatmate … yes gold starts for Lotte too) Lou:

Dear Facebook Guru,

Somebody has just friendsded me and I have absolutely no idea whatsoever who they are.

Sometimes this happens but then I realise via mutual friends or other names in their list that they are someone I have met at a party or someone I went to school with who has changed their last name.

This person has no mutual friends, is not someone I have met at a party, and is not a guy so isn’t just being randomly sleazy after falling prey to my hot-sauce-ness.

They do, however, have 222 friends so are obviously a compulsive friends-collecter.

Should I, for curiosity’s sake, reply saying “do I know you?” or should I completely ignore them and be left wondering?

Yours sincerely,


Oh mystery friendser, why do you tease us with your invitations of friendship and yet not have the courtesy to add a small note of explanation with your request? You know, something along the lines of ‘Hey Lou, remember me? You held my hair back while I was throwing up at All Bar One last Friday night and I thought that, in order to say thanks, we should be friends so that I may return the favour one day’

My instinct would be to ignore an unknown, no message, invitation outright, or at least sit on it for a few days as I try to track the person through my failing memory banks. Sometimes it may be a case of mistaken identity (happens a lot with me), sometimes it may be because while you have a lot of friends in common, you’ve never met each other and sometimes it may be to collect friends as one collects fridge magnets (although 222 may sound like a lot, I’m close to hitting that number and I’ve done at least three culls of my friend list so far … we’ll cover culling in our next edition). Of course you could give into the curiosity and message them with a polite ‘why hello there potential friend, I do not believe we have been acquainted, however if you can recall the occasion to me then I will happily welcome you into my general society” or “was I drunk at the time? Cos it happens a lot” …

I’m going to throw this one open to the floor – do you have a suggestion for Lou? Have you had this experience yourself?

Etiquette and Facebook Part 7 – Rage Against the Machine

Posted in Etiquette and the Modern World on 16 April, 2008 by sonal

Dear Facebook Logarithm thingy,

I understand that you think you are doing some sort of service to me by matching my friends list with other Facebook users and thereby, possibly, finding a long lost friend through our mutual chums.

However, no, I do not want to be friends with my ex boyfriend’s (not so) new girlfriend. Especially as we haven’t actually met and in the several times I have seen him since my return and the couple of hours worth of conversation we have exchanged, he hasn’t actually acknowledged her existence. In fact, dear Facebook Logarithm thingy, I didn’t really know who she was until you told me.

I think a friends invite to her along the lines of: “So hey, Facebook reckons we should be friends as I used to date the person you’re now dating and I thought, hey, why not? By the way if he’s still talking bitterly about his ex wife, run or perhaps keep some money aside for a one way ticket overseas, it will be the best investment you will ever make” could be a bit awkward.

With kindest regards,


Etiquette and Facebook Part 6 – You Can Choose Your Friends, But …

Posted in Etiquette and the Modern World on 26 March, 2008 by sonal

Deep down in the darkest part of my heart, the part where useless things such as despair and my former ability to calculate third order differential equations reside, I knew this day would come …

The friend request from an uncle (or for that matter aunt/parent/older relative who wants to hang with the kids)

I’ve got cousins, siblings and the folks who make up my real family (like Kathryn, Meg and Scott) all in my friends list. That’s fine, but an uncle (or more specifically one of my parent’s closest friends who treats me like a daughter) is not.

It’s not that I have anything to hide but there is a line to how much I’m willing to reveal to particular people. For instance, as many of you will know, my mum reads this blog (hi Mum) but if she were able to work out teh Book, would I want her to be one of my friends on it?


We’ve discussed the dilemma and she agrees, there is a line and I have a right to maintain it. If questioned, my reply is this: If Bapuji were on Facebook, I wouldn’t be friends with him, I’m not going to be friends with you either even if my brother and your own sons are. Sorry. I can’t explain the line to you, it’s just there.

And then, of course, there are these horrifying visions of numerous fois and mashis lining up a bombardment of friend requests and then going through my friend list with the vigour of a private detective and the deductive abilities of Inspector Clouseau (So many boys? Just friends? Really? And what’s this photo of you with a beer bottle?)

Etiquette and Facebook Part 5 – TPS Reports

Posted in Etiquette and the Modern World on 18 December, 2007 by sonal

Oh no, it’s happened … You may, in an unusual unguarded moment, possibly due an accidental over consumption of margaritas, have let slip to you colleagues and/or boss that you have a Facebook account … and now, you have a friends request from one of them staring at you from your monitor (at the same time, the aforementioned colleague beams a smile from across the room).

Or … and this is what happened to me … your boss actually says to you (after you tell him to find you, knowing that your name is so common that there are hundreds and you are safely anonymous) “Sonal, you haven’t sent me a friends invite”.


What to do?

Ok, this is what I did: I added him and then after a couple of weeks removed him. I know, bold right? A couple of weeks later:

Boss (and by the way, hi, I know you read this from time to time): Sonal, I’m a little concerned.
Sonal (worried that she’s missed something huge on an upcoming event): Why [boss], what’s happened?
Boss: We’re no longer friends.
Sonal: What?
Boss: We’re no longer friends on Facebook …

Oh shit. Oh yes. I had been caught and there was only one way I could go with this:

Sonal: You know what [boss], there are just some things a girl doesn’t need her boss to know about her while she’s working for him.

I think he was a touch disappointed … oh well. Even though there are two people on my list whom I have yet to actually meet in person, I still stand by my decision … people with whom you have a shared interest/philosophy/world view is one thing, your boss is entirely different. You work together, you joke in work hours, share stories, telling tall tales maybe, but they’re still your boss. They don’t need to know your travel plans or your extra curricular activities outside of the work place – even if they are cool enough to understand.

So there is that option. Otherwise you could try one of these:

Ignore the request
Yeah, you’ve got bigger ones than me. What you could do is just sit on it for days upon days on end, saying that you haven’t been on Facebook this whole time and then eventually ignore the request after a period of six months. Of course, this ruse only works if you haven’t befriended any other colleagues.

Accept the request but use a limited profile on them
Our lovely ladies Tamasha and Lou have made good use of the limited profile feature. So long as your colleagues aren’t obsessively checking out your profile, I think it works fine. I’ve yet to be on the receiving end of one (either that or I’m not checking certain profiles out at all) but, as I have mentioned on an earlier etiquette musing , if you do find yourself on the receiving end then perhaps you should just remove each other and live happily there after for both your sakes …

Accept the request and then remove them
Yes, you can do what I did. Or you can wait for around three months and then do it.

Leave the country
Also a good way to avoid these things …

Etiquette and Facebook Part 4 – Sonalfoi is Going to Lay it Out For You

Posted in Etiquette and the Modern World, Googilicious on 27 October, 2007 by sonal

Oh dear.

There are a number of you finding this blog after putting your Facebook dilemmas into Google … and for the most part, rather than the two posts that may give you a half decent answer, you keep landing on the Jane Austen one – and we all know how that one ends …

So bubba, Sonalfoi is going to be tough on you. Don’t take it personally, but your search terms have worried me a little. You must know that you are a wonderful, beautiful person? You do not have to make everyone happy, in the world of Facebook you do not have to accept people into your world because it’s the polite thing to do. Facebook is your small bit of the cyberverse. So long as you do not intentionally hurt someone else, then you can to do with it what you want.

And yes, I’ve had a couple of incidents happen too over the last few days, so I may be projecting my irritation a little … just a bit … remember that I love you. Ok? This is for your own good.

Friend invites and ex boyfriends or girlfriends
No. No. No. No. No. Got it? Just No. Do you really need to know what your ex is up to? Really? Do you need to know about the new love of their life?

But Sonal, we ended really well, not like you and David.

Baby, I don’t care if it ended with the two of you throwing a celebration together with all of your friends and family for the sole purpose of breaking up (you are cordially invited to our break up party!). You cannot get on with your fabulous life with your ex in the background, your ex cannot get on with their fabulous life with you bugging them to be their friend. Leave them be, they don’t need to share their wall flirtations with you. The beautiful and brilliant new people in their life don’t need you to remind them of whatever in joke you crazy kids had back in the day when you used to be a couple. Yes, we should all be adult enough to cope with our lovers past loves, but we should also be adult enough to say ‘actually, I’m not okay with you knowing all about my life now’ or ‘yeah we may be in casual contact and be friendly and all to each other in real life, but that doesn’t mean we’re actually friends’.

Which reminds me, judging from the number of you clicking through to the David who left a comment on my Midsummer’s post – no, it is not Mr Lawrence … do you know how many Davids there are in this world? There were three in my theatre department at uni – it’s just a coincidence so stop freaking out.

Um, so Sonal, this stuff you’re saying about exes, what about thier families? Look fair call, that’s a tricky one. I’m friends on Facebook with both of David’s sisters, I still love them and care about them, so I’m friends with them because I genuinely want to know what’s going on in their lives still. I guess when David is in his next relationship and these things spill over onto online networks then we’ll see what happens. If it makes his new love uncomfortable then I would do the right thing and, for the sake of his relationship, pull back on communication and quietly drop off their friends list in time. That’s just me, you may feel differently.

Removing my relationship status
Go and read part 3 of this series.

Ok, enough with the negative, when can I tell people I’m in a relationship?
Whenever you want, honey bee. If you want to tell everyone on Facebook you’re in a relationship of any sort, go for it.

People keep bugging me to join this Facebook thing
Don’t want in? Delete the email. People keep telling you about how cool it is? Well, yeah I’m back in touch with friends I haven’t seen in 10 years, good friends too. It’s particularly useful when they’re all scattered around the world as the status updates are a nice way of seeing what they’re up to without actually having to interact with each other. That said, if there was a reason why you dropped out of touch with certain people or if you are already in contact with all of the people you want to be … don’t bother joining, unless you like playing Scrabble (in which case, totally join, just for the Scrabble application).

Uh, this person wants to be friends with me, but I don’t want to be friends with them
Ignore it. Yeah it’s harsh and yes, it wasn’t long ago that I was advocating being polite about these things. Last night things changed … I received a friend request from someone who was my year at high school … it was late, I accepted, turned off the ‘puter and went to bed. And regretted it. This person wasn’t my friend at school, come to think of it, she was pretty mean to me, why on earth do I want her to see the cool things going on in my life? So this morning, as she sent in the detail request, I removed her from my list.

People, it’s not a race. The number of friends you have means nothing, it’s the quality that counts.

People you went to school with: Did you actually hang out together at school? Did you hang out outside of school? If you saw each other in the street would you stop and chat, give them a hug and kiss? Hell, did you actually ever have a one on one conversation at school together? No? Then you’re not friends.

People you have or currently work with: You don’t have to be Facebook friends with someone just because you work with them and you both have Facebook profiles. Yes you can be friends … maybe if there is still a genuine friendship once you have left the organisation, then be online buds. If you want to complain about work and tell your friends about it, but you don’t want your boss to see then firstly, make sure you’re not a member of any network and for crying out loud, don’t be Facebook friends with your boss!

Industry friends: Only you know the right thing to do here. With the theatre industry you tend to open so much of your emotional self to each other through the process of creating the work that friendships form. We’re still in the game for the sheer love of it (it’s not like any of us are making anything that could be called a living), we call on each other for support that it’s natural we become true friends. We have war stories to share that people outside the industry wouldn’t understand …

I have a crush on someone and they’re on Facebook
Do you actually know this person? Have you met them? Yes? Send them a message and say hello. What have you got to lose? You’re not doing it face to face. By asking this question, you clearly want to do something about it, but please remember that the object of your affection is under no obligation to be friends with you or even keep up regular correspondence. So be a good besotted gem, be polite and don’t have any expectations.

Someone emailed me and I think they have a crush on me
Be flattered. Be polite. Don’t be mean, or joke about them to your friends – that’s not nice and you know you have been in that same situation yourself, so treat them as you have wanted to be treated. If you receive a friend request from them and you don’t want to be friends with them, then ignore the invite, you’re under no obligation. If you have already done this and have just read this blog now, months after accepting them, then remove them from your list, if it makes you feel any better, they won’t know that you’ve removed them.

I have a crush on a friend on Facebook, can they tell when I’m looking at their profile?
No. No they can’t. Don’t worry and maybe, if you’re brave enough, do something about the crush – don’t ask me what, I’m useless about such things (being a total coward myself).

Ok so I didn’t want to ignore this person but I’ve put them on my limited profile, will they know?
Only if they go to look at your profile. You can alter your settings in the privacy option tab in the top right hand corner. Get to know, love and play with your privacy options.

Someone has set me on their limited profile, how rude!
No it’s not. They have their reasons, the most likely one is that they didn’t want to hurt your feelings by ignoring you all together. If it makes you that mad, then remove them as your friend, you both win.

So how do I remove them?
Go into your friends list (choose the display all friends option). You’ll notice that along with the option to poke or message your friend, there is an option to remove them. Click on it.

Will they know that I’ve removed them?
Only if they go looking for you in their friends list. Otherwise, no.

I sent someone a friend invite and they haven’t accepted it
You have plenty of wonderful friends in your life. Don’t worry about it, don’t dwell on it. They may have their reasons why they have chosen to ignore or not get around to your request, you don’t need to know to those reasons. Shrug it off, continue on with your gorgeous self.

Sonal, I want to send a really witty friend invite, you know, cool but not too cool
Yeah, I’m not a greeting card, love. I’m sure Hallmark will have a whole line of invitation witticisms available for your coolness needs soon enough …

Facebook? Again? Whatever! Who wants to be emailed to be told you have an email?
Ok, no need to be rude, I rule Facebook, it does not rule me … and turn off your notifications (go click on the account tab on the top right hand corner, then click on notifications), fool.

Etiquette and Facebook Part 3 – Sonalmashi answers your questions

Posted in Etiquette and the Modern World on 17 August, 2007 by sonal

I will try and make this my last post on the subject of Facebook, it’s just that I’ve been going through my blog statistics and the majority of search terms in the last few weeks have involved some poor paranoid souls who have been muddling their way through the precarious online world of social networking. They’ve turned to the Morgue inspired Jane Austen post (the most popular one on this blog) and then tried to find solace in the slightly more serious one started by my mother’s stalking requests …

Well my little virtual social butterflies, Sonalmashi (Aunty Sonal, or if you prefer for me to be related to your father, Sonalfoi) is going to give it one last shot to help you avoid those sleepless nights spent fretting over your potential social networking faux pas …

Dear Sonalmashi, how do I successfully stalk someone on Facebook?
Uh … yeah, I’m not going to help you with that one.

But I really …
No. If you can’t figure it out for yourself then I’m not going to help you.

But you did it.
On my mother’s behalf ok?

What’s the difference?
Plenty! Now, I’m not going to help you on this …

I’m stalking you right now
Oh whatever … what?

I can see you …
Er … moving right along …

You’ve been cleaning your keyboard with a cotton bud …

Dear Sonalfoi, what happens when you change your relationship status on Facebook?
Sweetheart, you’ve hit a wee minefield. After a strawpoll of about five people (1 real and the rest I made up), the best plan is to never put up your relationship status in the first place.

But you did … nice hoodie by the way.
Well, yes stalker, you’re right, I did. Mostly because it was the kinder option than my long lost friends feeling mortified by my response whenever they asked how David was …

Go edit your profile and remove the option all together, then delete it off your mini-feed, hopefully that will stop the story ever going out into the main feed – also change the settings on your newsfeed (in the privacy section, top right hand corner) so that certain details will never be published. That way only people who actually visit your profile page will know (if you want them to). So for the person who has been searching for an answer and coming to this blog everyday over the last couple of weeks – I hope this helps.

Dear Sonal
Sorry? Who?

*sigh* Dear Sonalmashi
Yes my little chrysalis?

I got a friend request from someone who I really don’t want to be in contact with ever.
Ah, yeah … I’ve covered this a little in the earlier post but after consulting a few other folks on the issue some have chosen to limit their profiles, others have ignored requests entirely … if you are going to ignore however, maybe sit with the invite for a few weeks until the person may have forgotten that they sent it and then quietly delete it – they will never know. And they won’t know if you remove them either …

And finally …

Hi Sonalfoi, what are some Mandarin phrases that may come in handy at the next birthday event I attend?
Well, you can’t really go wrong with zhu ni shreng ri kuai li