Inconsiderately Polite

College Students' Views on Etiquette Online

A Netiquette lesson from Margaret Atwood

Today begins my responses to readings from class and applying the to the theme of this blog- netiquette on the internet. While I read a lot of articles that really made me think about technology (specifically Web 2.0 tools), my favorite article I had to read was “Atwood in Twittersphere” written by Margaret Atwood herself. If you do not know who she is, get to know her because she is fabulous and funny, which was very refreshing after a few in depth articles. However, back to the issue at hand!

One of the main rules of netiquette is to be yourself .  Although the number is always changing, it is believed that on average 1 in 10 internet profiles are fake. Even if the profile is of a real person, some of the information they post could be fake. Currently on Facebook and in the Twittersphere there is a growing number of fake profiles and followers , which according to netiquette is a BIG NO NO! I wonder how many of Margaret Atwood’s followers are fake…

There is a lengthy list of reasons you should not create a fake profile, but in my opinion I think the main one is that it is just not right! (and nice). Poor Margaret Atwood was a Twitter newbie ( as was I up to a week ago) and someone stole her name and her picture, “My first problem was that there were already two Margaret Atwoods on Twitter, one of them with my picture. This grew; I gave commands; then all other Margaret Atwoods stopped together.” Luckily for her this stopped, but the same can not be said for everyone. With more and more socialization taking place through social media and the internet the issue of fake profiles is increasing daily and completely falsifying the social interaction those people get.

fake profiles

The internet is a scary place. Especially when someone could be using your name and picture. I typed my own name into Facebook and found three other people using my profile picture- which honestly freaked me out ( if anyone knows how to fix this please tell me). The more I read about this issue and found statistics, the more I realized why people need to be educated about internet usage before they take part in all of these social media sites. Everyone should know simple techni

ques to keep their information safe as well as how to identify what a fake profile looks like. For all of you curious out there, here a few tips provided by to identify fake profiles! However if you feel you need more information- type identifying fake profiles in on Google and tons of helpful tips will show up!



Please protect your information and yourself from these fake profiles and mean people. I hope one day the learn what proper netiquette is and their real selves and internet selves become the same person!


Here is a list provided by of the people with the most fake Twitter followers. Crazy, right!?

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The Fairies at the Bottom of Margaret Atwood’s Twitter

Margaret Atwood and I have a few things in common. She’s a lady; I’m a lady. She has a twitter; I have a twitter. She writes stuff; I write stuff. Yet those are where our outstanding similarities end. After all, she has around 400,000 followers on Twitter—I just checked—while I have less than twenty. Oh, and she’s published and has several full-length novels. I’m nowhere close.

The real reason I’m thinking about Atwood at all is because I was assigned to read this blog post of hers in one of my classes.  I must confess, I’ve never read any of her work before, but after that post, I’m putting her on my list. Seriously, her first sentence is this: “A long time ago—less than a year ago in fact, but time goes all stretchy in the Twittersphere, just as it does in those folksongs in which the hero spends a night with the Queen of Faerie and then returns to find that a hundred years have passed and all his friends are dead… where was I?”  The analogy doesn’t have much to do with the content of the post, but I seriously love stories like that. I mean, the word ‘Faerie’ is in my username.

The real interesting part of this post, however, isn’t the sadly short-lived fantasy metaphors. Atwood writes about creating her Twitter account, despite the fact that she “thought it was for kiddies.” But what really connects to the purpose of this blog is the way she describes her followers, which really shows the way etiquette on the internet is totally different from the etiquette of “real life”, face-to-face interactions . Evidently, one of her earlier followers tweeted Atwood saying, “I love it when old ladies blog.”


While the comment isn’t malicious, and Atwood certainly seems more amused than offended, it just isn’t something someone would say in person. Think it? Sure. Say it to a friend? Sure. But definitely not directly to her, as was done on Twitter. Can you imagine someone going up to her at a book signing and saying something like, “Oh my god, the fact that old ladies like you have a Twitter is so cute!” Probably not. Seems kinda rude in person, doesn’t it?

Even though things like that seem like they would be rude, Atwood is still “well pleased with [her] followers.” She even enjoys the way they pick at her typos and “tease without mercy.” Now, I doubt anybody would do something like that to her favorite author in person. Most people are too nervous to really be themselves. Yet, on Twitter, when there’s a screen and miles and miles in between, the playing field is equal. People are less afraid to play around and make jokes with even Atwood. Don’t get me wrong, this can and does lead to people being nastier and crueler to each other. But in Atwood’s case, it worked out—she likes the difference in etiquette just fine. To her, it’s “like having 33,000 precocious grand children.” Or, now, 400,000 of them.


New Technologies, New Etiquette

Our world is transforming into one where we are more and more involved online and in virtual communities.  Science has allowed, as Vannevar Bush writes in the article “As We May Think,” for, “the swiftest communication between individuals” (2).  This fast communication is seen in the evolution of the computer, and as Bush further writes, “knowledge evolves and endures throughout the life of a race rather than that of an individual” (2).    This made me think that if there is such vast knowledge that can spread quickly because of the fast communication that the computer has now provided, then how does our etiquette online impact and influence people?  Also, how aware do we need to be of what we are doing online because it does affect more than just us?  I think that we need to remember that what we are writing online impacts and influences more than just us, and that what we write can spread quickly with the development and efficiency of the computer.  Where we are at with technology is probably not where we will stay because new technologies are evolving that we may not know about yet.  With these new technologies, there will be new implications for how we should act online with the development of new technologies.  Even though Bush was writing this in 1945, he surely is ahead of his time, with the prediction of a machine that can store and access all types of information easily and quickly, which would later become the computer.  Now with the computer we can access information in ways that we could have never imagined and create worlds that were once unthinkable.

Now we can easily and quickly access all types of information and be a part of various virtual communities while taking on different identities.  This is one of the points that Sherry Turkle discusses in her article “Who Am We?  She talks about the lives of people who assume different online identities that are different from their own real life selves (1-12).  Turkle says in the article that, “the Internet links millions of people in new spaces that are changing the way we think and the way we form our communities” (1).  Because the Internet links us to so many people in many different places, we need to be aware of how we act, depending on the people we are interacting with.  Different communities elicit different etiquette practices.  If you were in a professional online community, you would want to be polite and talk about such things as work, where in an online SIM game you may talk more about personal issues and be more informal.  Also, the ideas of people creating different identities (that may or may not resemble their true self) also lend to the issue of etiquette practices online.  As Turkle mentions, “slippages often occur in places where personal and self merge, where the multiple personae join to compromise what the individual thinks of as his or her authentic self” (6).  So, people may create multiple online identities to showcase the different parts of themselves or to create personas to act in ways they wish they did in real life.  Do people feel that they can behave this way because it is in a virtual world?  How should we act in a virtual world?  Is it acceptable that people are deceiving others through different identities and how much do other people really care?  As Margaret Atwood says in the article “Atwood in the Twittersphere” that “you’re always saying things you shouldn’t have said” (1).  So, with new technologies etiquette practices may change, and because of way the Internet links us to so many people around the world, we need to be careful and conscious how we act online.

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Bye Bye to Books?

The two readings by J.D. Bolter, from his book Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print,  allowed me to further understand the transition from print to the digital age, which benefits me greatly because this is the topic I chose to write about for Dr. Tweedie’s Big Assignment in my Intro to Writing Arts class at Rowan University. Both of these chapters have allowed me to further support my thesis in that paper, that the concept of reading has changed with every new technology and will continue to change. As we have already learned from the previous modules of the Intro to Writing Arts class, people always argue against the newest technology, but what really stuck out to me was when Bolter stated “ printing did displace handwriting, in the sense that the printed book became the most highly valued form of writing.” (2). He goes on to explain later that the same thing has happened between printing and technology, “Both as authors and as readers, we still regard books and journals as the place to locate our most prestigious texts” (3) but the shift from print to the computer is still happening at a rapid pace.

I enjoyed reading these pieces by Bolter because it put into words exactly how I feel about the change between print and technology. There change is inevitable, and maybe printed text will still exist in my lifetime, but I truly believe one day it won’t. I also truly believe that is okay. Reading and writing has continuously adjusted with every new technology, so there is no reason that should not continue. In fact, writing itself was once considered a technology. Plato

himself described the alphabet as a “techne” which is the greek root of technology (Bolter 15).

jban37lThe part of this reading that I found most interesting was when Bolter started to discuss the idea of writing being “virtual.” When I think of something being virtual, I immediately think of something that has to do with computers and the internet. However, Bolter states that, “ electronic writing may also be virtual, yet all previous writing technologies were virtual as well” (18).  I liked this thought because I feel that it further supports the transition from printed text to digital text is a natural transition for writing and should be a natural transition for humans.

My favorite quote from both of these chapters is when Bolter says, “Digital media are refashioning the printed book” (3). I believe that this quote sums up what I have read in these chapters. Digital media is changing how we read, how we produce written work, how we layout out written work, and many other aspects that relate to writing and reading.



Anxious Over Change

For my Introduction to Writing Arts course, I was assigned to readings by Bolter on the change from printed texts to digital ones. To be honest, the idea that we are in “late age of print” scared me a bit. It’s embarrassing to admit; after all, I’m a young college kid. I’m not supposed to be technologically inept for at least another fifteen years. Yet there I was, feeling anxious. Bolter writes that “linear forms such as the novel and the essay may or may not flourish in an era of digital media” (6). I have never been one to handle uncertainty well. As a writing major, I have set myself up to spend my life writing. All I know, all I’ve been taught my entire life, are these so-called linear forms of writing. In fact, my intention was creative: I wanted to create novels. A risky idea already, as my friends and family love to remind me, but now they might just cease to exist? Bolter continues on to say that “prose itself is being forced to renegotiate its cultural role” as the visual becomes the way to present information (Bolter 6). Still, I am not a “Visual Arts” major, and I am not being trained in the visual.

Upon forcing myself to think about it longer, however, I understand that prose becoming less linear does not necessarily mean that I will have nothing to do with my talents and that I will end up cold and homeless (no matter what my anxiety will have me believe).


In “Writing as Technology,” Bolter talks about the ways newer technologies “define themselves by borrowing from, paying homage to, critiquing, and refashioning their predecessors” (24). In particular, I’m interested in the example of games: “computer games remediate film by styling themselves as ‘interactive movies'” (Bolter 25). The video game industry, for all its flaws, has really grown. Games have the ability to tell a story in a way that novels or movies can’t. They have become far more story-driven than they were in the beginning. I always toyed with the idea of trying to become a video game writer, but I gave up on the idea because I felt I wasn’t good enough at games. Reading what Bolter had to say about the evolution of writing, however, I feel like this is the perfect option for me. Even if the novel is dying out, the video game surely isn’t. And, fortunately for me, my ability to write is far better than my ability to complete a game on its hardest difficulty.


A Shift in Time: How Writing Technologies are Changing the Way We Write

Bolter talks about the change in writing that is occurring because of the introduction of new technologies.  In his article Writing as a Technology he says that, “It is not a question of seeing writing as an external technological force that influences or changes cultural practice; instead, writing is always a part of culture” (Bolter 19).  Throughout time, I have noticed that the space I choose to write in has changed.  I used to write drafts to my work by hand, and then go to a computer.  Now, I start typing drafts from the computer immediately.  I think for me it is easier because I can type as fast as I’m thinking, and I something I have wrote with more flexibility.  Bolter notes this flexibility as a quality that makes the computer different from printed material, and that we may begin to associate more with this quality as we use the computer more (Bolter 3).  While writing was always a part of my culture, the way and space that I write in has taken on a different form because writing as a technology is transforming.  I think another way that technology impacts the world today, as Bolter says in his article Writing as Technology is that, “the sum of the technical and social interactions that constitute a writing system” are changing the technology of writing (Bolter 20).

For myself, I think that social media has allowed me to see that it is not only the writer that writes something for people to see, but then the readers can respond, creating a world of connection and constant communication between people.  When I look on Twitter, I see all of the original tweets, but it is the reader’s responses that create the conversation and allow for more reader involvement than there is with printed text.  As Bolter puts it, “such tensions between monumentality and changeability and between the tendency to magnify the author and to empower the reader have already become part of our current economy of writing” (4).  This shows the impact that blogs and social media have on writing and how it is changing the way we communicate.  Not only that, but, electronic writings “permit the reader to share in the dynamic process of writing and to alter the voice of text” (Bolter 9).  What the writer initially writes may change due to the voice of the readers that join in while, the writing space that is formed by the computer is “animated, visually complex, and malleable in the hands of both the writer and reader” (Bolter 13).  This forms the social connections that not only myself, but everyone around the world has with each other.  When new media develops, they try to claim that they can improve our lives in some way or how we connect with others.  As consumers of this media, we fall in this trap, because I think are always looking for easier and faster ways to connect with others in this new age of technology.

More on Bolter from his book “Writing Spaces:  Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print”

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Gosh Darn Electronic Writing Technololgies

It is strange to imagine a world where all communication forms are found online or through technological devices. There is something empowering about holding a book in your hard and physically moving the pages. There is something genuine about going to the library and finding a book source for the paper you are writing. I am not against technology in any way, I just believe it will be hard to adapt to a world where books do not exist, where libraries are rows and rows of computers, and a world where everything is at your fingertips. As a future educator, the fact that there may one day be a world without a physical book for my students to hold, feel, and look at, scares me. Everything I know about how to teach my students how to read and write may become a source of pointless information. I understand that for the content area of writing, the written word is the technology itself. J.D. Bolter, in the chapter, Writing as Technology, explains, “The Greek root of “technology” is techne, and for the Greeks a techne could be an art or a craft, “a set of rules, system or method of making or doing, whether of the useful arts, or of the fine arts’” (15). Writing, of course, has its own set of rules and would be considered a useful art. During school, the content area of writing is one of the most important subjects because of the implications for the future. For me, I learned how to write using the pencil, the same way that many of you learned. However, today, there are preschoolers learning how to write the letters of the alphabet using apps on iPads. They are using their finger as the “pencil.” Bolter also states, “When one medium sets out to remediate another, it does so by claiming to do a better job” (26).

English: iPads can be a distraction to learning

English: iPads can be a distraction to learning (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I do not intend on claiming that the iPad apps for writing are not helping the students learn their letters, but I disagree with the fact that they do a better job. If the students are using their fingers to write the letters, they are going to lack the physical skills and knowledge of how to hold a pencil. I understand how closed-minded I am on the subject, but I feel that if nothing is wrong with a technique or way of teaching, there is no need to fix it. I know the age of virtual classrooms is upon us, but I will hold on to every last paper and ink book that I can. If I cannot teach my students how to read and write without the use of technology, I will at least be able to teach them about how I learned how to read and write, and the differences between their generation and my own.

Read Bolter’s Chapters here!

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Inconsiderately Polite

College Students' Views on Etiquette Online

Identifying John Doe

Do you really know who you're talking to?

Safety In The Machine

Welcome to the Jungle

Always There, Never Gone

Being unchanged indefinitely.