20 things you should never do with tech unless you want people to hate you

Tech etiquette 2017: don't be a tool, please

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Like many of its immediate predecessors, 2017 is guaranteed to be the most high-tech year in human history so far, with all kinds of useful devices demanding our attention, tracking our every movement, entertaining our eyes and ears, and monitoring our bodies.

And that's all well and good, but it 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 2017.

 Header image credit: Group of happy young friends from Shutterstock.

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. Instagram, WhatsApp or Snapchat them instead - that is, if you've heard of any of those networks.

2. Don't turn into a troll

If you're deliberately looking to wind someone up online you've got too much time on your hands or deeper issues that need addressing - take some time away from the keyboard and relax, no matter what your political leanings.

3. Don't be a payment pain

Remember that 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 phone, we're allowed to put something unexpected in your bagging area.

Even worse, if you attempt to use fingerprint-secured phone payments on London's underground network during rush hour, under local by-laws, other commuters are actually allowed to physically hurt you. It's the law!

4. Keep your eyes forward

By all means bury yourself in your smartphone when you're stood at the bus stop - it's your neck pain - but please don't try and walk and text (or Instagram or WhatsApp). Not only is it impolite, it's dangerous too... oh and please don't bring your VR headset on the train either.

5. Put in some face time

Your Facebook buddies might be more fun than your family but who's really going to help you when the chips are down? Put your phone down once in a while.

6. Keep your drones to yourself

Drones are great fun, but not for everyone - buzzing your neighbour's house is probably really annoying for them and may well get you in trouble with the law as well. Keep to wide open spaces and familiarise yourself with the regulations for the US and the UK before take-off - otherwise you might find your drone shot down. On the other hand...

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Enjoy the moment

And while we're on the topic - why not try enjoying more of life's best moments rather than capturing everything on your phone? If you're recording photos and video, you're never going to look at them again, and if you're live streaming, no one's watching.

10. Selfie sticks

Just don't.

11. Don't talk to imaginary friends in public

Virtual personal assistants such as Cortana, Siri or Google Assistant 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.

12. 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 obvious.

13. 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 2017 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.

14. You're louder than you think you are

Whether you're walking down the road with music blaring from your headphones, or taking calls on the quiet coach on the train, or playing games on the back row of the cinema, you're probably louder than you think - try and have a thought for others.

15. Don't share spoilers

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

16. 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.

17. 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, even in 2017.

18. 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.

19. 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.

20. Help, don't hide

Now that everybody in the world is carrying a camera phone 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.