How do I decline friend requests on Facebook? What happens if I run into the person in real life? - Social Shunner, Wellington

Two years ago, I deleted my Facebook page entirely, and didn't go back for six months. I had accumulated hundreds of social media friends I didn't care about - mostly met whilst travelling - and wanted to break free of being updated daily on random Brazilian girls' misadventures in Asia.


When I went back to Facebook, I did so under a pseudonym. Eventually some old friends did find me, though, and sent a friend request. So, I self-imposed a policy on friending: would I sit down and have a one-on-one coffee with this person?

If the answer was yes, they would get added. If it was no, they would be declined. Given the personal nature of social networking, and how much private information is available about you on your pages, this is a good rule of modern social networking to follow.


The "how" of the decline is simple. Just press the "not now" button. Unsuccessful friends will then be left in your Facebook request graveyard before you one day click "delete forever".

If you run into those people in real life (I have), you're not going to have a problem because you're clearly only on small-talk terms anyway. As noted, you're not sitting down to coffee with them.

If the first thing out of their mouth when you bump into them on the street is, "You didn't accept my friend request!" then you know you've done the right thing, because that person is clearly crackers. Just say, "No, no I didn't. Sorry. Lovely day isn't it?". And keep walking.

Is it wrong that I turn my phone on before the plane I'm in has hit the ground? - Phone Freak, Auckland.

Do you turn on your cellphone before the plane lands? Photo / Thinkstock
Do you turn on your cellphone before the plane lands? Photo / Thinkstock

The naughty among us will have realised that you can often get mobile service a few hundred feet above the ground. If you've been on a flight and you're desperate for an e-mail or text, it's entirely possible to receive it before you land.

However, this is strictly against airline safety regulations, so yes, it is wrong. In fact, if you get caught, an airline might take further action or ban you from flying with them again.

All of the new Air New Zealand aircraft (A320, B777, and B787-9 models) allow you to use your devices in Flight Mode at all stages of the journey, including take-off and landing.

If you turn your phone off Flight Mode there's a chance it could interfere with the aircraft's radios, but this is unlikely. However, what do you value more - your life, and the lives of those around you, or an e-mail? Just wait until the purser gives you the okay next time upon wheels-down.

We recently got married and 14 guests did not get us gifts. Am I just old-fashioned? I'm 30 and British and was always taught to buy a gift. - Miffed about Gifts, Auckland.

There is only one exception to giving a wedding gift. Photo / Thinkstock
There is only one exception to giving a wedding gift. Photo / Thinkstock

You're not old-fashioned. Gifting something to the happy couple on their wedding day is standard protocol here in New Zealand, too. But there is an exception. If you had a destination wedding - whether it was Lake Wanaka or Laos - you already asked your guests to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars to attend.

A recent report from American Express estimated the average cost for a guest to attend a wedding - inclusive of travel, accommodation, a new outfit, gift, and so on - is $701. If you knew your wedding was out-of-the-way for most people and they had to dig deep into their pockets just to get there, don't hold it against them if they didn't give you a gift as well.

If you had a city wedding, though, and most of your guests were locals, they should have all brought a little something with them. The old convention "spend at least the cost of your meal on a gift" is still a good gauge for most people.

Can you do anything about those 14 non-givers in retrospect? Not really. Think of it this way: if they weren't courteous enough to get you a gift in the first place, there's no way they would have bought you something you actually wanted anyway. Consider yourself saved of the storage space for items that need re-gifting, and move on with your newlywed bliss.