What is digital etiquette? First of all, what is etiquette? It’s a set of rules and codes that govern our social behavior. Etiquette reminds us to respect our elders, say “please” and “thank you”, and keep our elbows off the dinner table. More recently, our lives revolve around technology and the Internet. Digital etiquette takes the manners and politeness we’re accustomed to in other areas of life and applies them to the online world. In this post, I’ll outline some of the major doctrines of digital etiquette.
If you wouldn’t say it to their face, you probably shouldn’t say it online.
You should think of your online persona as a mirror image of your offline persona – the way you conduct yourself in person should be the same way you conduct yourself behind your computer screen. Far too often, commenters online take advantage of the anonymity of the Internet and post harmful comments without having to own up to the repercussions. Unfortunately, the online outcomes of name calling and deriding hurt just as much.
Private isn’t private in cyber-space.
It’s not enough to “private” a post or share only with your friends, because with enough money, computer knowledge, or government power, any information you post can be uncovered and shared. Before you post, ask yourself if your over-protective father or grandmother would approve. With 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook in a single day, your embarrassing photo could easily end up saved to someone’s desktop and shared with thousands of others. In other words, the hopes of removing all traces of your photo are slim.
Digital etiquette is evolving as fast as technology. Just as the on-the-street-call is no longer considered “faux pas”, condolence text messages will soon lose their shock value and become the expected response. Regardless, it’s best to stay ahead of the curve and avoid being caught with your elbows on the computer desk.
For more information on social media best practices: http://blog.laptopmag.com/put-down-the-phone-the-rules-of-digital-etiquette