Is it rude to show YouTube videos at a dinner party? Is it stingy to use a Groupon coupon for your share of a check? How gallant is it to text a prom invitation? When should you just put your phone down and pay attention to the people standing in front of you?
And should you return a missed call when the caller doesn't leave a message? That's the question we tackle in the first episode of our new podcast:
With smartphones appearing in millions of pockets and computer screens mediating more and more of our interactions, the question of what's rude has rarely been in greater flux. Technology and social media have connected us in astounding ways, but they've also given rise to etiquette dilemmas Emily Post never could have imagined.
As we were developing Slate's new podcast "Manners for the Digital Age," we realized that in such a fast-changing social environment, the manners column needed an update, too. We think the best etiquette advice is no longer just one person's opinion but a debate between two writers with very different perspectives on digital culture.
Emily Yoffe, the woman behind Slate's Dear Prudence advice column, has years of experience refereeing disputes between family members, significant others, co-workers, and friends. Plus, she was probably on Facebook before you were. But Emily is not exactly a technophile. "I'm the person the Dummy books are written for," she told me. "I appreciate technology, but it confuses and flummoxes me. I know I can't keep up, but my goal is not to fall terminally behind. I can text; I have a Kindle. But I'm the only person walking the streets actually talking to myself because I have no ear buds and am not plugged into any devices. I have no apps."
Farhad Manjoo is Slate's technology columnist, so it won't surprise you to learn that he does have quite a few apps. But his relationship with the newfangled goes deeper: "As you'd expect, I love technology. I'm always looking for a gadget or several to make life easier. This extends beyond just the stuff I write about—I love kitchen gadgets, gardening gadgets, and now baby-related gadgets. I'd be lying if I said this attitude always made my life better; often my devotion to technology, especially the newest stuff, creates more problems than it solves. My wife is also pretty uninterested in tech and sometimes dismissive of it—we're currently mildly quarreling over when it's OK to give our baby a computer to play with—so I think I've got some perspective on what most normal people think about gadgets."
Every week, Farhad and Emily are going to wrestle with your digital etiquette questions. And they want you to be part of the discussion. Send your questions, conundrums, and pet peeves to firstname.lastname@example.org. And then listen on Mondays for the latest episode. You can subscribe to the program in several ways: