Reviewed by Magdalena Ball
Ain’t U Got No Manners?
By Kristin Johnson
A Vegas Publisher
Dec 2016, ISBN: 978-0-9968437-4-4
If you’ve never given a thought to digital manners, you clearly aren’t alone. One of the hallmarks of online interactions is speed – usual grammar and punctuation rules often don’t apply, but our world is becoming increasingly digital, and while the online world may look like a wild-west, the way you conduct yourself, particularly on social media, is critically important. It’s easy to forget how recent a phenomena our technological proliferation is. As Kristin Johnson reminds us, digital technology has been in popular use for less than twenty years. However, in that time the growth of social media has been exponential, particularly as more portable tools for access, such as the smartphone, have become ubiquitous. It’s easier to get hold of our kids, family and friends via messaging than via the telephone. Even our music listening and reading are starting to be piped in live through network enabled apps like Spotify or reading apps like Kindle and iBooks that instantly link up with our networks and share our preferences and activities.
Ain’t U Got No Manners is not only a complete guide to behaving with grace and charm online, it’s also entertaining and funny. The book provides extensive information on presenting your best self online. The writing is light, crisp and easy-to-read, and the many sidebars, symbols, stories, and takeaway points after each chapter ensure easy comprehension, even for readers with online attention spans. Despite the relaxed, humorous and conversational tone, the subject is serious. With Facebook, Instagram, Google (including its search engine), Twitter, Snapchat, Skype and email all linking up, nearly everything that goes online is more or less in the public domain. An ill-thought through or offensive post can get you fired, can wreck your home life, can lose you friends, and even get you arrested. Like any good advice, much of the book is common sense: “When in public, act as if you’re on camera, because you just might be.” That said, it’s surprisingly easy to forget this, or not taking it seriously enough, while scrolling and commenting in the seeming solitude of your living room.
Aint U Got No Manners is full of anecdotes, from fake Facebook fundraisers, employees who were fired after posting silly pictures, or the woman whose thoughtless Twitter post went viral while she was in an airplane and by the time she landed she was a notorious pariah. Johnson has done her research well. There are also tips on how to minimise the impact of social media overload, handing texts (and “textually transmitted diseases” – I particularly liked the texting takeaways in text language), navigating Twitter, including one of my favourite sections, the #dailysins of Twitter (7 deadly examples in hashtag form), commenting, how not to be a troll, dealing with online meanness, internet dating, public shaming, posting video, SnapChat, photo etiquette (including selfies), and lots more. Put simply, Aint U Got No Manners is a must read for the Internet age: a book as enjoyable as it is informative. The book should be part of every school’s curriculum. If you take away nothing more than #think (before you…), then it will be worth the price of the book.