I have a friend who insists on contacting me via Facebook messages, which I loathe, when he knows I much prefer email or phone calls. I’ve tried ignoring him to train him out of it but he starts sending me “Hello? Hello?” messages twice a day and in the end I always buckle. How do I force him into using what he knows are my preferred channels of communication? Is there any way to simply turn Facebook messages off?
— M. Turnbull, Canberra, Australia
Everyone I know experiences this problem. It can be difficult to persuade multi-channel minxes that you really are very serious. If you’ve tried the silent treatment, you’ve tried asking nicely and you’ve tried making gentle jibes about it, there really is only one solution left to try. Reply to his next missive as follows: “LOOK. FOR FUCK’S SAKE, STOP SENDING ME FUCKING FACEBOOK MESSAGES. WHEN WILL YOU GET IT INTO YOUR FAT HEAD THAT I CAN’T ABIDE THEM, WON’T READ THEM, AND AM ON THE VERGE OF NEVER SPEAKING TO YOU AGAIN UNLESS YOU FUCKING WELL STOP SENDING THEM.” After the inevitable puppy dog routine, you’ll notice a dramatic improvement in behaviour. The important thing is to be consistent, though: never break again. You must learn to genuinely ignore the little red status indicator.
I joined Twine to meet new singles in my area without the pressure of having to actually see what they look like. The only problem is everyone is on the service is angry, beardy, overweight and hungover looking. What do I do?
You’ve correctly identified four typical characteristics of early adopters but fallen short of realising who these people are, which could be injurious to not only your dating life but your mental health. This class of individual is far worse than than the serial killers, sex offenders, binge eaters or alcoholics they occasionally resemble: these people are tech bloggers. Come back later when the herd has moved on.
It seems like everyone on Twitter is doing something for #NationalComingOutDay. I didn’t think everyone I followed was gay but it certainly seems to be that way today… Do I hop on the bandwagon?
— James, London
I can offer no better advice than this tweet, from the Telegraph‘s inimitable Damian Thompson.
As a protest against the idiocy of National Coming Out Day I’ll be Going In. Hello ladies!
— Damian Thompson (@holysmoke) October 11, 2013
I know it must be a boring question that you get asked hundreds of times each week, but can you explain basic Facebook etiquette? How long is too long to not return a message, especially when it’s been marked as “seen”? How valid is it to use Goatse to win an argument in a Facebook comment thread? I wish there was a set of rules for this sort of thing.
— David (via e-mail)
Tune in to this column on a regular basis and you will be well apprised of the latest advances in online manners. But in the meantime I will answer your two queries. First of all, Facebook has done us all a hideous disservice with the appalling “seen” notification, an invitation to the passive aggressive to send repeated entreaties for attention. But I see no reason to change your behaviour just because Facebook is trying to manipulate you into being “more connected”. Your interlocutors will get used to the fact that you read their messages, take some time to think about them and then compose a considered reply at your leisure. That is how asymmetric communication is supposed to function. As to the second query, there is no excuse for Goatse. Not because it’s disgusting, simply because it’s so excrutiatingly old-fashioned. Haven’t you people heard of 1 girl, 1 cigarette? [Editor’s Note: that link is not for the faint of heart.]
I found one of my fellow male colleagues on a fairly risqué dating site. What do I do? Chances are he’s seen me on it already. Do I leave the potential awkwardness go on or mention it and maybe bring us closer together?
What counts as a “risqué” dating service? Men who like Men who like Toenail Clippings? Furries Central? Stormfront Anonymous? I don’t know what your preferences are, but if the site’s that niche, chances are everyone on it’s a weirdo so take your chances with someone vaguely sane and ask your colleague out on a date immediately.
This is creepy but I like to watch my boyfriend jerking off to porn. Am I weird?
— Sophie, New York City
Unless you leap into the room and finish the job yourself, yes. Quite weird. We all know our partners do it but to be aroused by them fapping to someone else betrays a self-esteem problem that it is not within my power, or the length of this column, to solve. You might try throwing the router out the window and seeing how long it takes for him to dump you. At least you’ll know, one way or the other.