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Are There Special Rules For Dude Selfies?

No. But that doesn't mean you should take them! Also: How soon is too soon for Gchat? And when to discipline your dumb Facebook friends.

Posted on March 15, 2013, at 1:02 p.m. ET

Image by Cara Vandermey

Re: this piece on dude selfies, do you think special rules apply to the male self-portrait on the internet?

I, personally, don't see the gender of a selfie. When I look at a picture of a person-shaped thing holding up its phone before a mirror, its face twisted into a pout or a smirk or a determinedly unexpressive expression, I do not see a man or a woman. All I see is a human dummy.

That doesn't mean I haven't ever taken any, obviously! It's just one of those things that is incredibly stupid when anyone does it and yet a lot of us do it anyway because sometimes you just need a good close-up or you think you look nice that day or are trying to tell yourself you look nice that day. The selfie rule is the same overarching rule — regardless of sex — for the internet in general: You WILL be annoying, but do your best to contain it.

But there is one thing I'll say: Why, on dating sites, are there SO many dude selfies taken in the driver's seat of a car, with the picture's taker and subject looking at the road and not the camera? What's going on here? When did you get together and decide that this was a good place and angle from which to take your self-portrait? Where're you going anyway, huh?

Ugh, annoying.

Where are we at when it comes to being held accountable for other people doing embarrassing things on our own profiles? I've got an old "friend" who is always leaving these absurdly stupid comments on my Facebook posts, and like, people might not think we're close, but she DOES leave comments on my feed which might suggest I willingly associate with her (which I DO NOT), so like, yeah: Do people judge you for who you know?

What if there were a TV show like Catfish but instead of uniting would-be internet lovers, the host found people in tenuous Facebook friendships and forced them to rehash, in person, their most heated comment-thread exchanges? Wow, that would actually be really boring, I think. Agh, I want to die just thinking about it. (UNLESS it was YOUR Facebook friends on the show, and they have unresolved sexual tension?? OMG, I'm re-interested.) But also, it would be helpful for the commenters themselves. Because nobody would care enough to go over the comments in person, right? It would be exhausting and embarrassing and would slowly encourage the whole planet to get off Facebook.

But yes, absolutely, people judge you for who you know. I wish I could tell you otherwise (though what a weird and alienating life that would be, to think of each other as JUST individuals), but I can't. Every time I see some weird, dissonant string of comments on a friend's Facebook post, and I know enough about that friend to care, I wonder why those two people are Facebook friends. If it helps any, I usually assume it was an obligatory add, from a coworker or a brother-in-law or something, and I've never, like, DEFRIENDED someone because I didn't like something posted by someone ELSE on her wall. (I mean, there would be nobody left.)

So I guess you have to weigh these comments against how much you care about this person noticing you're censoring them — I'd delete anything you find offensive or hurtful, and if the person asks why, tell her honestly. But if it's something small and annoying, you can always just comment right after and say you think so. Don't get into a fight (what a way to ruin a day), but if you write even one comment that clearly states your stance, anyone who cares enough to read through your comment threads and judge your character from them will know not to lump you two in together.

What are the criteria I should use for trying to decide whether or not an internet friend and I are ready for Gchat (i.e., is Twitter friendship and an email or two back and forth enough)?

There are two (or else a million, the last few of which include face-down floor hyperventilating, pulling petals off a daisy, and counting as many stars in the sky as you can until you fall asleep) ways to go about deciding who you can and cannot reasonably start a Gchat conversation with: the boring and cynical way, or the way that believes in magic.

The first way (which is my own, for the most part) is to evaluate your relationship (the term here used, as necessitated by the internet, loosely) with this person and whether or not you can come up with one or two justifiable reasons why he might want to talk to you more than he is already. That's ludicrously subjective, obviously, but I'd work off this formula as a start: If you are Twitter friends (meaning you follow each other and fave each other's tweets at least once a week), and you have a few mutual internet friends, and you have exchanged AT MINIMUM one back-and-forth email correspondence with each other, you are Gchat Approved. (Of course, this says nothing of your first Gchat conversation, which is the TRUE final test. Ughgh, actually, the tests never end.)

The second way comes to us from friend of the column (haha) Matt Langer, who believes in Google: "I just let Gchat decide — however its algorithm works that chooses when someone you email starts to appear in your chat list is totally a mystery, but just don't ask any questions of it, assume it's the final arbiter." Presumably the algorithm is something that could be looked into, but I don't…want to? I think this is actually right! Everyone in my Gchat list fits my own above criteria, so either Google is brilliant, or I am, or we both are, or nobody is and it's all really easy and not worth worrying about, but that doesn't sound right.

FWD: Halp! is a weekly advice column on how to behave like a person when using technology. Would you like said advice? Email your questions to Katie.

Illustration by Cara Vandermey

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