Miss Netiquette’s guide to dealing with your online frenemies

Miss Netiquette's guide to dealing with frenemies online

The Internet is a wonderful if confusing world – and that’s why you sometimes need to be pointed in the right direction. Lucky for you, some of us spend far too much time online and logged in – and that wealth of experience translates into some social networking know-how. Consider Miss Netiquette (who you can reach at netiquette@digitaltrends.com) your guide to Web manners, and this week, she’s going to give you some tips on how you can enjoy yourself on social media even when your friends are acting particularly evil.

You know the expression “make new friends, but keep the old, some are silver, the others gold?” It’s a really nice sentiment, but sometimes your old friends aren’t so much gold as gold diggers and your new friends are less silver and more just total knob jobs. And even people you really, genuinely like can still do something mean or mischievous to you online – anyone who came of age in the earlier days of Facebook probably has a few stories of good-hearted Internet sabotage that resulted in embarrassment.

Should you freak out at your friends’ dubious Internet shenanigans or just roll with it? And should you de-friend that old co-worker you went out to lunch with a few times before you found out she called you “the human boring machine?” Every situation is different, but hopefully my advice to you readers can help.

Dear Miss Netiquette: My friends think it’s hilarious to recommend me for all sorts of bizarro skills on LinkedIn, like “water balloon juggling” and “smizing.” And I get it, but I’m looking for a job and I don’t want my potential employers to think I don’t take things seriously because I now have four separate recommendations for “party rocking.” What should I do? 

If you’ve already asked your friends to stop this nonsense and they refuse, you might have to resort to some backhanded tactics. And you really need to get this stuff off of your LinkedIn. Even though it’s fairly harmless and potential employers who get grumpy about having a few goofy recommendations probably won’t be fun to work for, getting a job is no joke, and if you need to look serious and bland on LinkedIn to land one, that’s what you need to do.

SO – you can blackmail your friends in just a few easy steps! Sign up for another LinkedIn account using a throwaway email address. Upload your photo and then add your friends, but use a silly nickname instead of your first name. This will trick your friends into thinking you’ve lightened up about everything. Then, start recommending them for skills that are obvious sexual innuendos. Repeat until they break.

Of course, that will only work if your friends have professional ambitions. If they’re in jobs that don’t require LinkedIn, they’ll be harder to deal with. You may have to just stop calling them until they stop being so callous; nothing is “fun and games” when it can seriously mess up your chances of making the money you need to live.

Dear Miss Netiquette: So, I have an ex-friend who used to have Facebook but she’s put it “on pause.” So my question to you is can she still see my profile if she unlocks herself? My profile is set to private but we were friends at the time she deactivated her account and when I try to look her up she does not appear.

Yes, she can still see your profile if she reactivates her account. But if you know the email address she used to make the account, you can still block her even if her account is deactivated. That way, when she reactivates, she won’t be able to see you. Easy solution!

Dear Miss Netiquette: I was on Twitter the other day and I checked my grade school friend’s account. We stopped being friends last year after we went to different high schools. I was just looking to see what she’s up to but I saw some tweets that I know were about me! Should I tweet back at her?

No. What your ex-friend did is called a subtweet and it’s some immature, petty behavior. It might infuriate you to see what she’s written, but if you respond, she’ll feel gratified rather than embarrassed. I’d block her account and move on with your life. She sounds like someone you were lucky to drift apart from. And if you really want to address the situation, a guaranteed way to make her understand the depth of her immaturity is to confront her face-to-face in a polite way. Next time you see her, you should very simply say, “By the way – saw your subtweet.” Being called out on your subtweet – in real life, no less – is an ultimate embarrassment. 

Dear Miss Netiquette: This is going to sound weird but this guy who I got in a huge fight with a few years ago now likes EVERYTHING I do online. He likes basically every Facebook status and every Instagram picture. And you might think that he’s doing this to make up for our fight, but the thing is that he is still a huge jerk in real life to me and everyone else. Like really angry. So… I think he’s doing this to be mean?

There are a few things that could be going on here. Even though you say he’s still surly, maybe he is actually just bad at being nice in public and got used to his angry persona, and he’s trying to make up for it when he’s by himself by being so affectionate online.

But if you say he’s still a jerk, you’re probably right… he might be hate-liking all your stuff.

Honestly, I gave a similar answer above, but the best way to deal with people who are being mean on social media is to try and ignore them at first. Don’t give them anything. Now, some cyber bullies will still persist and then it’s absolutely a good idea to contact authorities, or parents and teachers if you’re younger. But if this guy is just creepily liking all your stuff, just let him do it and don’t comment. That takes a lot of effort and hopefully the novelty of engaging in such bizarrely subtle psychological warfare will fade.

Dear Miss Netiquette: I just lost a lot of weight and started at a new school. These super mean girls from my old school just made an Instagram account of old pictures of me when I was chubby and called it “Fat (My Name)” and then they started following all the cool kids from my new school! What should I say to them? 

OK, sometimes you shouldn’t ignore bullies, and you shouldn’t ignore these sociopaths. Immediately report this to Instagram, and encourage other people (anyone you know with an account) to do the same. Instagram should yank the profile. But you should take screenshots of the pictures to make sure you have them on file as evidence, because you should also bring this to the school administration.

This is clear-cut bullying and the perpetrators should receive a substantial punishment, ideally suspension. They still (well, probably still) be awful to you, but they should not be able to publicly humiliate you like that and still attend your school. And I am so sorry that happened to you. Remember: High school is terrible, and college will be way more fun. With IQs this low, those girls probably won’t get that far…

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