- In 2012, resolve to kill off these bad behaviors on the Web
- That copy-and-pasted Facebook status? Try writing your own instead
- Avoid bad Twitter spelling and comment-section trolling
- Deal with the public? Treat people well, or the Internet watchdogs will not be pleased
If your New Year's resolutions have lasted this long, congratulations. You're 1/366th of the way home.
But it's not too late to throw a few more on the pile. And since half of us spend an hour or more online every day, according to the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project, it's worth considering a few Web resolutions to go along with those vows to drop some pounds or put down the smokes.
Here are a few suggestions for digital behaviors you might want to resolve to drop in 2012. You can feel better about yourself while making the Web a happier place.
Even this guy.
Copy-and-pasted Facebook statuses
Guess what? We can pretty much promise that even more than 97% of us won't copy and paste the Facebook status update that you copied and pasted from someone else (who, in turn, predicted that 97% of people wouldn't copy and paste it).
First, some math. If 97% of Facebook's purported 800 million users don't copy and paste your status, that means that 24 million people will. Congratulations -- you just created one of the most popular things ever on Facebook.
Seriously. Feel strongly about a cause? Write your thoughts about it. Once we've seen the same thing five or 10 times, we'll stop being sympathetic even if you're taking a stand against the cudgeling of baby seals or something.
And the ones that claim to share some tidbit of shocking information? The vast majority are bunk.
We'd say about 97% of them.
Mangling the English language on Twitter
We get that Twitter is meant to be quick. And that sometimes you have to tighten up the spelling to get your words of wisdom down to 140 characters or less.
But for the love of Bieber (16 million followers), take five seconds to get "it's" and "its" or "they're," "there" and "their" right.
You'll probably hold onto more followers in the new year if your tweets don't hurt their brains. And, if you're a celebrity, take the time to avoid reminding us that your clever dialogue came from a screenwriter or those meaningful lyrics were penned for you by a songwriter.
Lame online comments
We get it. When you combine "people" and "sheep," you get "sheeple." And, at some point, somebody probably felt proud of the new portmanteau he dreamed up to insult folks on the Web whose opinions differed from his own. (Pardon the pronoun ... but you know it was a guy.)
Look ... the Internet gives us the ability to communicate in real time with people we've never met, all over the world. Is "This is Obama's fault" -- on a news story about a lost kitten -- really the best we can do?
And don't get us started on "First!"
We'd love to see online commenting take a step forward in 2012 and have people shoot for the kind of conversations we'd like to have if we were all sitting together over a cup of coffee or cold beer.
But we'd settle for not seeing "LULZ" used as a noun.
(Note: We're well aware this item guarantees that all the bad behavior we just mentioned will now appear in the comments below. Go for it if you must -- just don't think we didn't see it coming.)
Inviting Internet karma
Do you run an online business? Are you hoping to get elected? Heck ... do you do just about anything that involves dealing with other human beings?
Then don't be a jerk. It will just make the watchdogs of the Internet have to waste time taking you to the digital woodshed.
Remember the customer service rep who recently told a customer whose video-game controller order had been repeatedly delayed to "grow up"? (The rep also helpfully called him a "complete moron.") The guy was fired after sites such as Penny Arcade got their hands on the e-mail chain.
Did your airline break a musician's guitar? Pay him for it, or he'll write a catchy country song and post it on YouTube, where 11 million people will see it.
Want to charge your customers $2 just to make their payments online (the quickest, most environmentally friendly and easiest-to-process way)? They'll hound you online so mercilessly that you'll have to change your mind the next day. Yes, Verizon, we're looking at you.
We've got this great big tool to tell lots of folks about your wrongdoings really fast. So resolve to be nice. Or you will pay.
Just because your phone lets you get on the Internet doesn't mean you have to tweet -- or heaven forbid, make a call -- on the toilet. You don't have to bury your face in Words With Friends while you're walking down the hall, putting us both at risk of a collision and concussion.
We get it. Boy, do we ever get it. Those super-computers in our pockets are alluring in a way that not much technology has ever been. We get hooked ourselves sometimes.
But you can put your phone away once in a while. If you try hard, you can make it through 2012 without texting in front of us in the movie theater or while weaving through rush-hour traffic.
And while we're at it, here's a tip for you Apple employees: Try to get through 2012 without leaving any iPhone 5 prototypes in bars. Really, you can do it.