“Long gone are the 1st edition chaperone and the 12th edition ashtrays at the dinner table and white gloves,” the brood of Emily Post laments in the massive 18th edition, published this week.
Emily Post's Etiquette: Manners for a New World tackles the ripe terrain of the tech realm, with our biggest social bombs happening not at the table with a fish fork fumble but via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and text message.
No less than three of the protocol maven's great-great grandchildren (Anna, Lizzie and Daniel) join Peggy Post, the great granddaughter who updated the last edition seven years ago, to expound on everything from LinkedIn to text vernacular. (If you're not inclined to glean the family's pedantry from this 700-plus-page tome, there's also a website – emilypost.com – and an iPhone app. Thoroughly modern, IMHO.)
A sampling of the Posts' tech counsel – one part sage, one part obvious, all amusingly stern:
“Avoid typing your entire message in capital letters because CAPS ARE THE EQUIVALENT OF SHOUTING. So use upper and lower case unless you have something to shout about: I'M ENGAGED.”
Think twice about that uplifting quotation in your signature line: “Will your biblical quotation seem proselytizing to someone of another faith?”
“It's your page,” the Posts remind. It's okay to ignore a friend request, untag yourself from a photo, delete a friend's comment from your page, ignore quizzes, groups and event requests and “unfriend someone whose presence on your page makes you uncomfortable.”
I tweet, therefore I am: “Don't tweet about what you had for breakfast or what store you happen to be in. Do other people really need to know?”
Avoid texting “sad news, business matters or urgent meetings, unless it's to set up a phone call on the subject.” Try calling sometimes.
“Don't text at the movies, a play or a concert – the screen light will disturb others.”
This one goes out to the high-schoolers: “Don't be a pest. Bombarding someone with texts is annoying and assumes they have nothing better to do than read your messages. Would you call them that often?”
On instant messaging
Choose your screen name wisely: Supa_chronic might not be the wisest alias on an office IM.
Respect the “Do not disturb” status just as you would if it were hanging from a doorknob. Also, “just because someone's IM service shows them as being ‘available,' it doesn't necessarily mean that they are.” Patience, grasshopper.
On MP3 players
“Take the ear buds off when talking to others. Don't have them hanging around your neck or, even worse, leave one in when having a conversation.” Also, turn it down: No one asked for Beyonce's serenade on their morning commute.
On ring tones
Lil Wayne or Vivaldi? “Think about what your ring tone says about you. Is your frat-boy hip-hop tone the right ring for your new job as a trainee at an accounting firm?”
On recorded greetings
Short is the word. “A musical overture, an intro on how pleased you are someone has called, or a child's cute chatter keeps the caller waiting unnecessarily – and piles up the cost if the call is long-distance.”
Avoid typing, washing dishes, shuffling papers or busying yourself with other tasks while on speakerphone or using the dreaded headset/Bluetooth. And nix the mid-meal call: It's “crude.”
As thrilling as it may be for little Anastasia, reconsider letting a very young child answer your BlackBerry in the off-hours. “It can be difficult for a child under 6 to understand a message and relay it to the right person.”
Last, but not least: “Don't make the call from the stall. Sure it's a private spot, but subjecting the person on the receiving end to the accompanying noises is gross. Subjecting others in a restroom to your conversation is inconsiderate.”