Digital Manners

Etiquette for Online Life

Etiquette extends to screens and online communication.
Digital Manners
Don't forget your manners behind the screen. (NoraVector/Shutterstock)
Seated at a keyboard or pecking away at a phone while connected to the world via the internet, it is easy to lose sight of the need to exhibit good manners. However, all those folks on social networking sites, forums, and at the other end of emails are real and deserving of respect.

Practice Discretion

Just as in the real world, oversharing is not a great idea; you might be sending a note, a meme, or a personal photo on a social media site to a friend, but consider who else might be able to see it. Another suggestion is to act as if any digital interactions were face-to-face conversations. If you would not say something out loud, by all means do not type it!

Nothing Disappears

It’s best to assume that everything you post will remain tucked away in some corner of the internet forever. With more employers looking at their staff’s personal online activity to make sure it doesn’t conflict with company policy, it might be best to not post any jokes, photos, or comments your boss might not find amusing. This advice also applies to anything you wouldn’t want your family members to see.

Smile as You Type

It can be easy to come across as cold or aloof while you are sending emails, so, even for business notes, unless they are focused on a grave, serious matter, make an effort to inject a bit of personality. Ignoring distractions to focus on composing the message, and actually smiling as you type it can result in a message that comes across as warm and genuine.

Stay Connected

Being online for personal or business can be engrossing, but be careful to not become oblivious to events and people around you. Take a break from the keyboard every so often to look at far-off objects to virtually stretch your eye muscles, take a short walk to get a fresh mug of coffee, and have a quick chat with coworkers and/or the dog. These breaks keep you connected and refreshed.

Know When to Sign Off

A quick look around any restaurant or office break room reveals faces pointed at glowing screens, completely unaware even of others seated at their table. The same can be said of some meetings in which there always seems to be at least one person who insists on texting, distracting everyone else. Step away from the keyboard while eating, in meetings, and definitely upon arriving home.
Bill Lindsey is an award-winning writer based in South Florida. He covers real estate, automobiles, timepieces, boats, and travel topics.