image via Suzy Zoo
by Briana Campbell (@MsMatchGirl)
In polite society, there are a few rules that we all (should) live by.
Say please and thank you and excuse me.
Give your seat to an elderly person or a pregnant woman on the bus.
Basically, treat people the way you would like to be treated.
Nothing too complicated and, for the most part, exactly the same words to live by as adults as when we were toddlers.
And, except for that last one, they all apply to life online.
In August of 2008, (friend of Zemoga) Chris Brogan posted a few simple rules to live by online, which are worth revisiting. But one of my favorites, and one which I try to very much live by, came to us via the @Zemoga Twitter feed this morning: Don’t do or say anything you wouldn’t do in front of that person. Face to face.
You see it so much in the comments section of blogs and online publications, where people hide behind the internet, their screen name and not-them avatar, and use anonymity to not only be rude, but sometimes downright mean. They definitely write things that they would never say to the author’s (or the commentator above them) face. Somehow, hiding behind their screen makes it all OK. Let’s file this one under, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
Here are a few more tips for living well in the digital age:
Share: Post links that your online friends have written. Post links that you find insightful, enlightening, entertaining or just downright silly.
And, of course, give credit where credit is due. Facebook allows for this automatically, when you choose to share a friend’s link. With Twitter, make sure to include RT @Zemoga or (via @Mashable). On blogs, make sure to include a link to the webpage/blog of whomever you’re referencing.
Listen: It’s not all about you, so don’t use your Twitter feed/Facebook page or blog to only promote yourself. If a friend is running a Kickstarter campaign, link to it on your Facebook feed. If someone you follow is asking for advice, reTweet the question. You’ll be amazed by how much more interaction you get when you start really seeing what others are posting.
Pay attention: Similar to listening, paying attention will save you a lot of trouble in the long run. It’s especially important when communicating or building relationships through e-mail. If a thread went out to 50 people, pay attention to who they are and what part of it you are answering. If only the original sender needs your response, don’t hit “reply all”.
Facebook and some e-mail clients default to “reply all”. Just take two seconds and see who you’re replying to. It will save everyone on that e-mail a lot of frustration in the end.
Along those same lines, when commenting on Facebook comments/walls/pages, think about what you’re writing. Is it on topic? Or did the fact that your friend John posted pictures of sea creatures covered in oil in the Gulf remind you that you’d been meaning to phone him about those extra concert tickets you had? Send him a private message.
Say please, thank you and excuse me: If someone links to you, retweets something that you have shared or offers you advice, thank them.
It’s important to have good manners, whether you are living your life in the real world or spending a lot of time in the digital one of social media websites.
What are some of your best tips for courtesy online?