At some point in our lives (hopefully), we were schooled on the importance of minding our manners and the appropriateness of etiquette in our daily interactions with people. During this time, we regularly said please and thank you, treated others how we want to be treated, waited for someone to finish before speaking and acted inconspicuously and politely if recognizing someone out in public we had met previously.
...And then came social networking.
I've mentioned this before, and I'll say it again: social networks like Facebook and Twitter (just to name a few) are great for connecting, sharing and interacting with people beyond our normal professional and social circles. It's a powerful tool if used wisely. It's a powerful explosive if abused. It's NOT an automatic license for people to act like complete jags and throw respect by the wayside.
If you're a bit rusty on what constitutes as manners or etiquette online, let me refresh your memory:
- Thank You. Just because you're participating in a casual online environment, doesn't mean you can't thank people for being nice, sharing something you posted or throwing a compliment your way. Plus not saying thank you makes you look like a jerk.
- Respect. When you respect others, others will respect you. It's earned; it's not a God-given right. Be aware of your environment and the conversations going on around you and adjust your behavior accordingly. If your sole purpose online is to treat people like caca, don't expect to be included or responded to very often.
- Your Introduction, Hello, and Goodbye. Just like any face-to-face or phone conversation, introductions are essential. It's intimidating being the new kid to social circles, especially ones that have been established for quite some time. So, rather than barge in and start talking smack, feel out the crowd and when appropriate, say hello, then interact.
- Don't Be the Creep. Occasionally, you'll have opportunities (planned and unplanned) to meet the people you interact with online, outside of the social playgrounds. Sometimes, you may recognize a person by their avatar, but are a bit nervous to say hello. That's fine, we all experience that. HOWEVER – it's not cool to stare at a person while they're eating, or pretend to check your smartphone when really you're taking a picture of them – and your sound level is so loud that the shutter click is overheard. You've earned yourself bona fide creep status by doing that.
My manners list could certainly be a mile long. And yes we're all human beings and slip up. No big deal. What DOES become a big deal is if you're a habitual offender and earn yourself the label of an online troll. This could really come back to bite you in the arse if you ever need to rely on those online communities you offended, for professional purposes.
Sign when you send a text!?!?! Are you kidding? It's not 1999 anymore. Most people have contacts in their phone, or contacts sync with google, apple, etc. Who signs text messages? Do you still write "lol?" I can send you my pager number if you have an issue with this post.
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