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10 rules of productive online communication – gen Z edition

The substack Many One Percents offers ten rules of productive online communication for people in the Gen Z population. 

I found the list a little silly at times. Incredibly annoying at others.

1. Never end a sentence with a period (“.”)

I end every sentence in every text message with a period. Apparently, doing so can be quite triggering to my Gen Z brethren, signaling a level of seriousness that may raise their seemingly delicate hackles.

Give me a break. I’m a fan of grammar. I like a mark of punctuation at the end of my sentences.

2. Never text without emojis or text emojis

I’ve never used an emoji in a text message in my life. Or anywhere else in my life.

I prefer words.

I don’t think any less of people who use emojis, which is just about everyone on the planet except for me. They just aren’t for me. At least not yet.

I have, however, used the like and love buttons on text messages to signal my approval and hopefully end the conversation.

3. But do NOT ever send 🙂 or 🙂

Never done it, but now that I know it might disturb my Gen Z friends, I kind of want to.

4. If you’ve seen it, reply it, can be anything, but REPLY IT ANYWAY!

Nope. Not everything requires a reply. Many text messages sent to me do not. Replying when unnecessary is called “A waste of my damn time” and “A waste of your damn time.”

My time is far more precious than the potential neediness of my Gen Z friends.

Also, “reply it?” Is that a phrase we use now?

5. If you’ve seen my story, you’d better reply to my message

Thankfully, I never see anyone’s story because I mostly live in the real world, accomplishing real things, making meaningful things, and interacting with flesh-and-blood people rather than creating forgettable, purposeless ephemera on Instagram.

6. “Haha” doesn’t equal funny.

What the hell does it equal, then? It’s not exactly my favorite means of expressing amusement. Still, I use it, and I like it a hell of a lot better than LOL or ROFL because those two things (laughing out loud and rolling on the floor laughing) have never actually happened to me after reading a text message.

At best, I might quietly audibly chuckle.

7. If we’re a couple, you’d better like my photos.

I assume this means a couple in the non-married sense because Elysha doesn’t need to like, love, or even look at a damn thing I post.

I value her time as much as I do my own.

But if I ever dated someone who needed me to look at my phone and press a “like” button on their photos to validate that person and express my love, I’d find another person.

8. Be careful with being “okay.”

It’s a sad and stupid world when a word as benign as “okay” is somehow aggressive or triggering.

I’m rarely just okay, but that word is as vanilla as they get.

9. Capitalizing the first letter in a sentence will reveal where you are.

Let me explain:

Your phone will autocorrect and capitalize the first word of every sentence, but the messaging app on your computer (if you’re using a Mac) does not. As a result, people can apparently determine the device from which you’re texting (and therefore your likely location) based on your capitalization.

Except “outside the home” and “inside the home” is not exactly a precise determination of your whereabouts.

Also, I capitalize the first word of every sentence because, again, I’m a fan of grammar.

10. If I tag you on my story on Instagram, you must repost

I had a non-Gen Z person call me out on this recently, complaining that I didn’t repost or retweet his mention of me on social media. I told him it was weird to assume that I had seen the mention, cared about the mention, or felt like it was a good use of my time to interact with the mention.

Once again, I am spending most of my life in the real world, less concerned with the utterly forgettable, completely meaningless ephemera of social media.

I use it. I post to it. I get news on politics, finance, marketing, writing, and the New England Patriots from a carefully curated feed of reliable sources on Twitter. I’ve even established meaningful, productive, and profitable relationships thanks to social media.

My use of social media once sent me all the way to the Supreme Court in a lawsuit against Donald Trump, which we won.

Social media has its uses. It can be a positive force in a person’s life.

It can also consume, contract, and corrupt your life.

Many of the rules on this list suggest (at least to me) the nefarious, all-consuming, time-sucking, mind-altering potential of social media.

Sadly, the list also seems to indicate the amount of time that people are spending their time online rather than interacting face to face, engaging in real-life experiences, and turning off their damn phones.

But perhaps this list speaks to a tiny subset of a larger, wiser, more balanced population.

I dearly hope so.