I don’t know whether it’s because I’m a writer and so I have this incredibly awkward streak in me that occasionally just bursts out and is followed by the longest silence know to man or something else, but I appear to be breaking a lot of the rules on the internet and I think we should talk about that and spend a moment trying to figure out how I can help you avoid my follies. So here are some rules for the internet:
1. Be cool: Don’t tell somebody you want their manuscript to marry your’s, or that you’d like to run away with their book and get married, which is entirely accurate but is normally followed by the sound of a thousand social media workers headdesking and your mother shaking her head as she mutters, “should’ve gotten that second opinion.”
2. Give good advice: Don’t get so wrapped up in the details of somebody else’s dilemma, and the problems they need to face, that you panic and give out the most unrealistic advice man has even known, even if somewhere in the deepest part of the recesses of your mind it still kind of sounds like a fun idea.
3. Practice scepticism: Don’t get so wrapped up the magical feel of the internet, and how we are all talking through a fabulous information superhighway of speediness, that you suspend all disbelief and trust everyone and end up watching what is probably somewhere in the region of a thousand Rick Astley videos.
4. Be forgiving: Don’t abandon all hope of ever being a normal person when you realise you physically cannot cope without the internet. Don’t attempt to go an entire afternoon without googling and manage 12 minutes. The internet is a lovely place; it is okay to be addicted to googling things and it is probably better than a lot of other addictive things in the world.
5. Be original: Talk about things other than your all consuming love of tea, for example. Stop telling the world how much you adore it, and drink it, and dedicate your life to it. Stop panicking when you run out of milk and therefore can’t drink it how you like, maybe. Stop naming your mugs, perhaps. Maybe tea is not that big of a deal.*
6. Engage: Maybe don’t become so overwhelmed with awkwardness, and general Britishness, that you are constantly watching people on your internet, doing all kinds of fabulous things, and you feel like you are reasonable friends but you’ve never actually spoken to them because that would be, you know, weird.
7. Be brave: Don’t figure that in a world where puppies nibbling on thumbs exist in gif format that you cannot have a voice or be heard or have something of consequence to say. Don’t shy away from saying what you have to. Why can’t puppies nibbling thumbs and your valuable opinion both exist on the internet?
8. Stay focused: Don’t get distracted. Don’t let videos of duckling paddling in sinks and cats riding roombas become your Friday afternoon. Don’t do it. Don’t spend hours flicking back to a manatee gif and contemplating the metaphor behind it. You will end up like me, stuck with a gif of a manatee permanently open on your browser and, also, with no sympathetic friends.
9. Be calm: When you meet people in real life who know you on the internet, or when people in real life come to know of you on the internet too, your standard reaction should not be to kind of hide behind whatever presents itself — a plant pot, a shoulder, a coffee table, a welcome matt. You know, just, whatever. Don’t do that. People are lovely, why would you do that.
10. Forget the rules: Internet rules are for sissies! Do what you want! If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that the world is a vast enough place that I can do almost everything entirely wrong on the internet and yet still people forgive me. And if you do forgive me, ALL THE HEARTS FOR YOU!
What are the rules you like to follow on the internet?
*tea is a very big deal I cannot let that statement just sit there like srsly