Tech etiquette for 2016: keeping it real without being really annoying

How can we cope with the most high-tech year ever?

2016 will be the most high-tech year in human history, with all kinds of devices demanding our attention, tracking our movements and monitoring our bodies.

And that’s great, but it also raises issues of etiquette such as: when is using a smart watch not so smart? Are there limits to what you should share online? Is it okay to shoot down your neighbour’s drone? Let’s find out how to navigate the tech etiquette of 2016.

1 Don’t phone young people

They don’t know what to do and just get frightened at the prospect of, you know, actually talking to somebody. Text, Instagram, tweet or better still, WhatsApp them instead.

2 Don’t be a payment pain

Contactless payments are only convenient if they’re quick. If we’re standing behind you in the supermarket checkout while you keep trying and failing to scan your Apple Watch, only for you to finally realise that the amount you’re paying is more than you can use contactless payments for, we’re allowed to put something unexpected in your bagging area.

3 Keep the VR headset at home

It’s bad enough navigating through streets of people engrossed in their smartphones without having to deal with Daft Punk lookalikes on the Tube too. By all means discover the many joys of virtual reality this year from HTC, Samsung, Microsoft or Oculus, but please do it in the privacy of your own home.

4 Don’t drone near your neighbours

Drones are great fun, and will remain so until the inevitable ban: they already need registration in the US, and if the UK can effectively ban hipster Segways it’s surely a matter of time before it bans drones too. And that’s largely because of the kind of people who can’t control their drones, and because of the kind of people who can control their drones and use their skills to film their neighbours.

5 Don’t shoot down your neighbour’s drone

Not because it’s rude, but because it’s probably illegal. Use a net instead, or a rock, or a specially trained bird of prey.

6 Real music fans don’t take tablets

We know we’ve lost the “don’t take pictures with tablets” argument, but in the name of pop music please don’t record gigs with anything bigger than a phone: someone with an iPad might as well be holding a fluorescent dinner plate in front of your face for the duration of the show.

7 Don’t talk to imaginary friends in public

Virtual personal assistants such as Cortana, Siri or Google Now are brilliant, especially when you can summon them from a smartwatch, but there are few things as weird as somebody breaking off mid-sentence in a real conversation to ask their watch to look up, calculate or set a reminder about something. Friends don’t talk to imaginary friends when they’re with their real ones.

8 Selfie sticks

Just don’t.

9 Don’t chase your children around the internet

You and your friends hang out on Twitter, or Facebook. Your kids hang out on Super New Groovy Chat Net. Should you (a) join Super New Groovy Chat Net and send them a friend request? or (b) realise that the reason they’re on Super New Groovy Chat Net is because it isn’t Twitter, or Facebook, and therefore doesn’t have you and your pals on it? The answer is always (b).

10 Wi-Fi isn’t a right

Just because we don’t think your kids should share everything online with you, that doesn’t mean they have a divine right to connectivity. Sharing the Wi-Fi password is the 2016 version of letting the kids watch TV once they’d tidied their room, and cutting off comms is a more powerful punishment than being grounded, or having mum or dad choose their clothes.

11 Don’t share spoilers

We put this one in every year. Spoiler alert: it hasn’t worked so far.

12 Don’t share your bowel movements

Fitness trackers and fitness tracking apps enable us to monitor our health, fitness and the day-to-day activities of our various bits with unprecedented accuracy, but that doesn’t mean anybody else needs to or wants to know the fine details of your digestive system, sleep routine or fitness regime.

13 Don’t be a tool on Twitter

If you’re tweeting somebody you don’t know, there are nicer ways to start the conversation than by steaming in with insults. Apparently nobody on Twitter knows this.

14 Don’t like Likes too much

The Like button is a great way of showing you’ve seen something and it made you smile or sad, but if it’s your only form of communication then something’s gone terribly wrong with your relationships.

15 Think before you post

Will your friends really be glad that you shared THAT pic on Facebook, that nugget of information on Twitter or that embarrassing anecdote on your blog? If there’s the slightest doubt, leave it out.

16 Help, don’t hide

Now that everybody in the world is carrying a cameraphone around, if an incident happens and you think “Do I help, or should I film this?” you can be sure that somebody else has already launched their camera app in the hope of going viral. Do the decent thing and help, don’t hide behind a screen.

Image credit: Group of happy young friends from Shutterstock