Is it live? Or is asynchronous?

Signing off from a text conversation gracefully is more fraught than ending either a real-time phone or video call or an email, because text messaging is an unusual communications medium.

Here’s why: A text dialog can be either real-time (like a call), asynchronous (like an email), or both at once. One person might want the conversation to be real-time, while the other doesn’t have the inclination to volley messages back and forth like it’s a phone call; they might be busy and prefer that the conversation roll out between moments of their life, like an email.

The message thread between…


What’s the proper way to sign off in an email? Unfortunately, there is no universally correct way. The best signature may be none at all.

Because:

“Sincerely,” is too formal.

“Yours,” is anachronistic.

“Best,” is often seen as antiseptic or rote.

“Cheers,” is weird unless you’re writing your email from inside a pub.

“Thanks,” can work, if you are actually asking the person for something in the email. It’s not a good all-purpose closer, though.

“Love,” of course, is all you need. But only if you’re writing to someone you actually love.

Confused? In a lot of cases, signing off…


For all the ways we communicate, there are different ways to greet people, and different ways to say goodbye. These social norms evolve over time. By now we’re comfortable saying “bye” to someone at the end of a phone call. But newer technologies can still leave us feeling awkward at the transition.

For example, video calls. The farewell question really comes down to one issue: Am I a dork for waving goodbye?

Because, really, why do we wave? We don’t wave goodbye after an in-person team meeting in a conference room. We don’t have the urge to wave goodbye after…


Stonehenge
Stonehenge

Inviting someone to spend time with you in a work meeting is one of the weightiest things you can ask. Time is the only resource that absolutely cannot be recovered once it is spent. So how do we make sure we ask people to share pieces of their lives with us as respectfully as possible?

Here are some tips for using work calendar invites properly:

Share the Agenda

Creating a meeting agenda is the ultimate sign of respect. It puts all parties on an even playing field and it makes sure everyone has the opportunity to prepare for a productive meeting. Not putting…


Whenever Amazon advertises something to me on Facebook, I grab a screenshot of it. Because how else am I going to truly learn what the algorithms know about me?

Now that we’re in a new year, it’s time to look back on who Amazon thought I was in the last one. Some of the suggestions make sense. But many of them are at best confusing, and at worst creepy as hell.

See the images below. This is what the Amazon AI thinks I will like. Now I know what a Rorschach blot feels like: Misunderstood.

And yes, the only thing…


The Etiquette of Binge-Watching

Streaming media and watch-when-you-want TV shows have changed how we talk with each other about popular entertainment. Now, we have the option to binge — to watch an entire TV series all at once, like a very long movie. I remember my first binge: House of Cards. Although Netflix released the entire first season at once, I told myself I’d watch only an episode a night. But there were nights when I was weak, and I watched two in a row. Once, I did three.

Who could I talk to about my obsession? When I went to work after a…


Greet your guests warmly, take their coats, and tell them the WiFi password. My latest Tech Etiquette story for Asurion Tech+Life is here: How to Be a Good Wi-Fi Host.


Friends! I am now writing my tech etiquette column for the new site, Asurion Tech+Life. I’ll be posting links here, like this one, to the first installment: Mind Your Phone Manners at Dinner — or Pay Up. Enjoy!


The Etiquette of Electricity

Time was, a gentleman never left his house without a lighter. Even if he didn’t smoke, he might meet someone who did, and the proper thing to do was to offer to light their cigarette.

Far fewer people smoke today, and those who don’t can be forgiven for not carrying an old Zippo. What everyone does do today, though, is use a smartphone. And there’s a Zippo equivalent for that: A battery charger.

You want to be a hero to a damsel or dude in battery distress? Offer to charge them up when their phone’s running low. …

Rafe Needleman

Editorial Guy. Skeptic. Nerd Dad.

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