Inconsiderately Polite

College Students' Views on Etiquette Online

The New Age of Technology and Etiquette

This week I read an article called “How Companies Learn Your Secrets” by Charles Duhigg, which looks at how companies can learn your shopping habits by examining routines and buying habits.  He goes on to talk about  how it is hard to change a person’s shopping patterns once they are set, but if you catch a person at the right moment, like when someone is having a baby, they are more vulnerable to change.  Andrew Pole, a statistician, was hired by Target to do analysis into shopping patterns of consumers in order, “to analyze all the cue-routine-reward loops among shoppers and help the company figure out how to exploit them.”  He took particular focus into targeting women who were expecting a baby.  After accumulating data, he noticed certain shopping patterns emerging, which all came from the women’s registries or from something called a Guest ID.

Everyone has a Guest ID number, which shows what you have bought in the past at a certain store and allows for companies to send certain coupons based on what you have bought in the past.  Companies know that once your shopping patterns and routines are set you are unlikely to change them, which makes it easy to use the Guest ID and send coupons based on things you are likely to buy again.  Duhigg also mentions that, “linked to your Guest ID is demographic information like your age, how long it takes you to drive to the store, your estimated salary, whether you’ve moved recently, what credit cards you carry in your wallet and what Web sites you visit.”  Is this going overboard and breaking the rules of etiquette associated with technology?  I thought that this concept was interesting and made me think about etiquette rules that should be used with technology.  If companies can use technology to access this type of information and analyze shopping patterns, what else will they be able to do?

It is amazing to think how technology has allowed for such data to be recorded, and then to be used in a way that creeps into our lives un-expectantly.  So, is it proper etiquette that companies can do such a thing as use a Guest ID?  I think that a lot of people are not even aware of this happening to them.  While, some might feel exploited, others may say that it is helpful because they get coupons for the things they want and will buy each month.  I think that this shows the power of technology, and how much it has grown over the last decades.

Throughout this blog, I have been looking at technology and etiquette, which is now referred to as “netiquette.”  It seems like “netiquette” will only continue to be a growing issue.  I mean if companies can access our shopping habits, what else will they be able to do in the future?  Look at Facebook and its ads.  The ads on the side of the screen are put there because they are targeted towards the things you like, and what kind of things you post on your wall.

The bigger question I think is:  what else will technology allow us to access and what new “netiquette” rules will come into practice?  While this all may seem like people are trying to creep into our lives, it is a part of the world now that has been brought on with the increased and advanced use of technology.  I think that it is important for companies and online site to keep etiquette, or “netiquette,” rules in mind because it will allow for consumers to keep buying products, (while not feeling like they are being too violated) and the companies to keep customers coming back to buy more.

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What’s Up with Etiquette Online These Days?

With all the new forms of communication available to us today, there are so many different opinions on what the appropriate etiquette is when using them.  In a post on the blog Gigaom called “The Future of Online Etiquette is Already Here-It’s Just Unevenly Distributed” written by Matthew Ingram he says, “As anyone who has missed an important email knows by now, modern communications etiquette is a minefield of unspoken expectations and potential anxiety-inducing behavior.”  This quote perfectly sums up the issues with modern etiquette these days.  We are so unsure of the ways in which to behave online because it is not written out in a rule book.  We are left to guess what the expectations are, which can lead to people being stressed out about what to do, and then writing something online that they regret.  Part of the problem is that “we have more competing forms of communication available to us than ever before-and not only are different people at different stages in their evolution from one to the other, but people also use then for very different purposes.”

There comes new types of etiquette with each new form of communication, and with all the new forms of communication that are growing and evolving, it can be hard to keep up with all the new etiquette practices.  As mentioned above, not only are different communications evolving, but people are evolving at different stages through them.  The younger generations are quicker to adapt to new forms of communication, like Twitter, so they pick up on the etiquette practices at a faster pace.  Older generations may only just be getting comfortable with the communications and not be aware of all the etiquette practices involved.  In a blog by Thomas Farley, also known as Mr. Manners, he says in the post “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” that, “one in five people have lessened their contact with someone in real life on account of a virtual argument.”  So what is appropriate to post online, especially if you know it will offend someone?

It is hard to say because you never know who will get offended.  I think that people feel more inclined to post these things because they are behind a screen.  What they don’t get is that people still can get offended whether it is said online or in person.  Do people understand that they are offending someone or do they not know the etiquette rules?  It is hard to say, and I’m sure it goes both ways.  Some people are probably aware that they are posting rude comments or acting inappropriately on a certain site, but others may not even realize it.  We have to realize though that the scope of the Internet is so large that there probably is someone who will be offended.  Mr. Manners sums it up nicely by saying, “The time is now for all of us to make a commitment to being nicer when we log on.  Think twice before you post…if you wouldn’t say it face-to-face don’t say it monitor-to-monitor.”  This is just one piece of advice that can help all of us online.  While I think it will take a long time for people to catch on to all the online etiquette practices, being nicer online is something we can all do, no matter what age or stage in the evolution of communication we are in.  It just takes little steps to improve our etiquette online, and I think that being nicer is certainly a start.


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Online Etiquette: The Do’s and Dont’s

Never in a million years did I ever think that online etiquette would be such a problem. For the most part, people seem to know how to handle things in person, but when it comes to hiding behind a computer screen, that’s when the fists go flying. The problem with etiquette online is that not everyone agrees on how to use all the different ways we can now communicate with each other. Are there too many ways to communicate? Yes and no. Not everyone uses Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc; so there needs to be other ways for these people to communicate. However, the problem with the immense amounts of communication devices is that there are different people using each one. There are different purposes for each type of communication, which means that each different type has its own type of etiquette. Each person has their own views on what they can or cannot do on a social media site, or form of communication. According to Mathew Ingram in his blog post entitled, “The future of online etiquette is already here—it’s just unevenly distributed, “the biggest challenge for modern etiquette is that we have so many different forms of communication available to us now, but no everyone agrees on how or when it is appropriate to use them.” It is true that it took years for my mother to start using Facebook. My mom is not the most social person in the world, so it took a while for her to get used to the

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

fact that she could be in constant contact with friends, family, or former peers. The thing that got her to use Facebook was the game “Words with Friends.” However, because she was on Facebook, she was posting embarrassing things on my wall. After confronting her about it, I realized she had no idea that everyone I was friends with could see the things she was posting. That’s when I got to thinking, “How is it that newcomers to social media know what the formal etiquette of the site is?” The answer: they don’t; until their child yells at them for posting something about their dirty clothes being all over the floor. Something so harmless seemed like the biggest thing in the world to me, because I knew my mom did not know how to act on Facebook. On the other hand, there are thousands of people commenting on news articles on websites like CNN. Some of these comments are rude, nasty, and appalling. If these people are posting comments every day, they certainly aren’t newcomers. Why don’t they know that what they are posting is not appropriate? Why are they above the rules of online etiquette? Well, this is for them:


The Dos and Don’ts of Online Etiquette


  1. According to an article on, it is important to remember the Golden Rule. “When you’re sitting in front of a computer screen, it can be hard to empathize with the people you’re talking to online. In real life, you wouldn’t brazenly insult someone to his or her face (hopefully), so why do it on the Web?”
  2. Take responsibility for the words that you are writing. If you feel that strongly about a topic, don’t hide behind a fake name and pretend like it wasn’t you who posted the comment. Stand up for what you believe and take credit for it.
  3. Promote good online etiquette behaviors. Teach your children, family, friends, or colleagues the proper way to post things online. Be proud that you follow online etiquette rules!


I know I won’t be able to inspire the entire online world to follow the rules of etiquette when online, but if I can inspire one, it’s a pretty good start!

Here is another list of Top 10 “Netiquette” Rules that should be followed!

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