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The 'Me' in Social Media: The ONLY Online Etiquette Rule You'll Ever Need

Here's a (fictionalized) example of one of my prize-winning screwups:

I started a Facebook flame war because I stupidly thought a guy -- a pretty famous guy with lots of "friends" and a short fuse -- was praising the IRA (the Irish Republican Army) when he'd in fact been talking about Roth IRAs.

So I exploded at him. He exploded back.

To their credit, some of his friends quickly and correctly speculated that I'd simply screwed up my acronyms.

I was tempted to run and hide, but I forced myself to apologize, taking full responsibility for my hot head and weird interpretation of his status update.

Here's the key:

The fellow I'd accidentally dissed didn't accept my apology immediately. It took him a while to mellow out. For all I know, he took to the wider web and called me a moron.

However, I let it go. I'd done my part.

You can't control another person's reaction to your reaction.

So if you're the one at fault, say you're sorry right away. (I know: it sucks.)

No excuses (except, maybe, "Need more coffee!" which, as long as it's typed before 11 a.m., generates a modicum of sympathy.)

When appropriate, ask what you can do to make things right -- then promptly shut up.

Don't expect an award or acknowledgement of your magnanimity.

After all, that wouldn't be very magnanimous, would it?

I don't blame him for wanting to keep that sweet Aflac gig, but Gilbert Gottfried apologized for his "controversial" tsunami tweet all wrong.

By "comedian" standards, he hadn't done anything THAT bad (although by "corporate" standards, he sure had.)

So obviously his apology was insincere.

And worst of all, it didn't save his job, which had surely been the "reward" he'd been expecting.

(Language warning:)