More etiquette for the 21st century
Technology moves at a fast and furious pace, which means sometimes our communication skills have to play a bit of catch-up as we get used to new ways of talking to each other using electronic devices.
Online etiquette, or “netiquette” as it has been coined, is a set of rules that apply when communicating over the Internet (on social networking sites like Facebook, for example) and on computers or devices (via email or text message). Obviously common courtesy should always be your guide in any form of communication, but remember to keep these specific rules of conduct in mind the next time you’re communicating online:
- Proofread and spell check your messages. There’s nothing quite as sloppy or careless as an email littered with mistakes. Watch out for auto-correct to make sure your words aren’t substituted automatically.
- Don’t use short forms like “u” instead of “you” or “ur” instead of “your are” in an email. While these short forms are more acceptable in a text message, they are bad form in an email.
- Don’t use all caps—it’s the online equivalent of shouting. IT EVEN LOOKS LIKE YELLING. See?
- Don’t forward a personal email from one party to another without the first party’s permission.
- Be careful what you send to people via email. There are lots of jokes and funny photos floating around the ether, but what’s funny to you may not be funny to someone else. If you wouldn’t tell the joke in person, don’t send it in an email.
- Be aware of tone. Re-read your messages to make sure your meaning is clear and that it can’t be misread. Remember that sarcasm doesn’t translate well to the online environment and can often end up sounding mean, not funny.
- Remember that text has permanence. Whatever you text or email to someone is a written record that can be saved for years to come.
- Be yourself. Hiding behind a keyboard can sometimes give you a kind of false bravado. Those are the times when you may decide to email or post things you might not have the courage to say to someone face-to-face. Always be the person you are in real life—don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in person.
- Stay one step ahead of trolls (those who post insulting or nasty things online, usually anonymously) by ignoring them. They want the attention, so don’t give it to them!
- Explain any acronyms the first time you use them when communicating with a friend. That way they’ll understand that BTW means “by the way” or LOL means “laughing out loud”.
The rule of thumb is always to err on the side of caution. Chances are if you try not to offend, you won’t, but it’s still a good idea to bone up on your netiquette every now and then to make sure you aren’t making an innocent mistake.
409973 CAN/US (04/15)