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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Inconsiderately Polite

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