Inconsiderately Polite

College Students' Views on Etiquette Online

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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Inconsiderately Polite

College Students' Views on Etiquette Online

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