By Sue Corbett Janine Rubenstein
January 30, 2012 12:00 PM


The social-media era hasn’t made us less polite, says Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That? author Henry Alford, but it has given us “more canvases to paint our bad manners onto.” Some tips for better etiquette, online and off:


Return a phone call with a text.

“There’s an implicit hierarchy of communication. If you go lower on the hierarchy, people will think there’s a subtext.”


Brag too much on Facebook.

“Someone may be having trouble conceiving, for instance, so posting your sonogram as your profile picture isn’t the best idea.”


Overuse “thx.”

“Whenever I see that I wonder, what’s wrong with the letters a-n-k? ‘Thx’ can be an insult, especially in response to a long and thoughtful letter.”


Say “No problem”

unless an actual problem has been averted. “It’s false modesty. I had a waiter recently who asked if I wanted water. I said ‘No thanks,’ and he said, ‘No problem.'”


Use exclamation points!

“E-mail is tricky tone-wise; there’s such a dead-fish aspect to it. The exclamation point is our best friend.”