The new year is only yards away, which means you've got a shining chance to reinvent yourself as less of a jerk. Adopt these tech principles and you'll be a better person in 2013.
We generally hate read receipts—those little notifications that say whether someone has read our texts, and when—because they enable us to be selfish and lazy. I have them turned off. I have them turned off because it helps me be a flake, ignore people, and generally be socially unreliable.
Turning on these notifications won't make your life any easier or more enjoyable. It'll be the opposite. It'll force you to be more responsible. It might be a nuisance, to have to reply to your friends' questions and invitations when they ask, as opposed to days later. But you'll be a better, more virtuous texter because of it.
You've got a Netflix account. There's someone dear to you who would like to catch up on old episodes of something. They need a Netflix account. Help them out. It costs you nothing.
But my password! Change your password to something different from all the rest of them, and easy to remember. A string of nouns and a number, maybe. You don't need to throw it around loosely, but don't be greedy. If someone asks, and they're trustworthy, spread the love. You can always change the password and cut them off later.
Bonus resolution: do this for HBO Go, the Mercedes of streaming video passwords.
Time to grow up. Time to stop mooching. Unlimited streaming is only $8 a month. I promise you, you can afford this. HBO is another story—plus you need a cable subscription, which might not be your lifestyle choice. But Netflix? You can swing a Netflix account. Make 2013 the year you stop bothering all your friends for theirs.
This one is simple, and you know you should have made it a resolution in 2004. There are plenty of automated backup programs that'll send your files to THE CLOUD in case of a computer meltdown. I use CrashPlan, but have heard Carbonite is very good too. It doesn't matter. Pick one. Use it.
Smartphones at dinner have made their way into social acceptability by brute force alone—it's a bad habit we all decided to pick up together. But that doesn't mean it's right, any more than glancing at a magazine during a meal is right. It's ingrained at this point, but if you make an effort to never take your phone out of your pocket during meals, your friends will take notice—particularly if it's one on one. Their phone-glancing is contingent on everyone else doing the exact same obnoxious thing. They'll feel uncomfortable if they're alone. So this year, take a stand. Not at every meal, because we're all cripplingly addicted to our phones and that's too much to ask. But maybe just some of your meals can be phone free, and you'll lead the charge.
Just because the holidays are done doesn't mean your hopeless parents/uncles/aunts/neighbors/pets aren't going to be free from woe. If your dad needs help with his new camera, return the call.
You'll have to follow your heart on this one, but make sure you're not being an unbearable, humblebragging prick on Instagram this year. There's a big difference between one picture of your gorgeous island vacation and ten. Does the world really need to see the bottle of champagne you're drinking to celebrate something? Do we need to see your shiny new car? Ask yourself whether you're tapping that phone to genuinely share, or to just show off.
User Manual is Gizmodo's guide to etiquette. It appears as if by magic every Friday.