And sisthren. (there’s no such word? Argue with yourself abeg.)
*adjusts oversize “motivational speaker” rainsuit, half suit, half raincoat*
Etiquette is like an air ticket, if used rightly, it will take you places you’ve never been.
A couple of days back, I witnessed something odd. A person, X, (I’m hiding the gender here) was dragged on social media for posting screenshots of a conversation with someone, or more accurately, a conversation someone, let’s call it Y, was trying to have with X, in which X firmly but (maybe not too) politely shut Y down after it became apparent Y was trying to toast. You see ehn, this business of initiating personal or private conversations on social media, there are rules to it. There are certain small rules of etiquette on the net, or should we say netiquette, that govern the sliding into inboxes, DMs, and other private message spaces. All those motivational speakers who litter the real and digital universe (mark my words, their number will increase after Efe’s victory in #BBNaija) will say corny stuff like “your attitude determines your altitude”. For me, see header above.
First of all, in initiating a conversation with someone, never assume the excessive informality that characterizes most conversations on social media. It doesn’t matter if you are talking with a comedian who delivers all his jokes in flawless pidgin, not the watered-down something Efe was speaking in the house o, real, authentic pidgin, from Waffi. It doesn’t matter. Never assume. It is far better to come on as excessively formal and be told to stand down and ease up than to come in swaggering, wine glasses clinking, like you both have been friends since primary school, when in actual fact you don’t know him (her) from Adam (Eve) and you are only interacting for the first time.
What am I saying? The use of “hy”, “sup”, “xup”, or any of its derivatives is wrong. It assumes a level of formality that is very disgusting, and can be quite insulting, depending on who you are speaking with. Personally, it is highly unlikely that I will give you the time of day if you slither into my inbox and your opening lines are one of those blasted short forms that assume nonsense familiarity. A polite “good morning”, or whatever, depending on the time of day, is far better, and says you are serious. Some folks who inbox me with idle chatter, I simply put a good morning there so they feel the need to straighten up and behave themselves.
Secondly, get to the point. Say your bit, and go. It is an inbox message, it will not be overtaken by likes and comments. Saying “hi” and leaving it at that gives the impression that you came for idle chatter, which is not what people go inbox to do. There is an outbox section for that, with spaces for likes and comments. People can actually click like to appreciate the fact that you hollered at someone to say hi or to check on them, but if you hollered to check on them, say so. Just “hi” doesn’t cut it. I will pick up my phone to reply a “hi” only when I am idle, or only when I feel I need to decongest and take a break from whatever it is I was earlier doing. And even that is not a guarantee of a reply. My guess is that a reply will lead to “how far”, or some other thoughtless statement that could easily be an opening line on its own. If you are sending me a message to say hi, and I go to all the trouble of picking my phone, verifying my dna, and all the other security measures I use to keep my phone secure, and your message is just “hi”, ngwa, you too, hi yourself. On the other hand, if you are sending me a message to check on me, or to ask how I am faring, or something of that nature, just say it, all at once. I will see it and reply when I can, it is direct message, or private message, or inbox message, it is not instant message, biko. Thank you for caring. I can be very lousy about keeping in touch at times, my real friends know this.
Thirdly, if you are sliding into inbox to say something that could just as easily have been said out in the open with no ill effect, you know it is a waste of time, right? People erroneously assume that being able to chat inbox with someone is a sign of intimacy, a kind of closeness. Fa-fa-faa… Foul. Nothing could be further from the truth. Smart phones are so good at capturing screenshots these days, and naming and shaming is getting more popular, and that is beside the fact that screenshots are a brilliant way of getting comments these days.
People, be warned. Smart phones can not cure stupid people, they just make it more obvious. Until I come your way again with more stuff, catch ya!
Ignore the third sentence biko, I do not even own one suit!
But first, tell me what you think. Down there at the comments section.