Archive for November, 2011

Acting with Decorum in the Digital World

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Today smartphones have become an intrinsic part of our digital lives and are no longer merely used for making calls. The need for us to display good digital manners has never been more essential but unfortunately this isn’t always the case!

Governments and independent agencies impose regulations for proper Mobile Internet behavior when, for example, personal safety is at stake (like texting while driving) or disturbance can be caused (as in dedicated quiet cars on trains). In the broader sense, however, there is a need for a socially acceptable set of rules for using ever smarter devices and this is the catch 22 of the situation: these guidelines need to be initiated by those very communities that use them. Yet, as users, we’re still struggling to determine how the devices we’ve grown to depend on can be unobtrusively integrated into our lives.

How annoying is it when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone and they’re constantly checking their phone for emails, Facebook updates or sending text messages? Or you’re at a wedding and the person in the pew next to you takes pictures and tweets throughout the service? None of this is illegal but it can be offensive and it’s certainly anti-social.

Many believe that digital devices should come with user etiquette manuals to inform users about polite usage in public places. This may help reduce the day-to-day disturbances that modern devices create but there’s a general feeling that with the rapid adoption of new technologies, digital manners are also rapidly deteriorating. Maybe there’s a need for digital etiquette to become a compulsory class in all educational programs!

These classes could use Netiquette as their base curriculum. The term is a blend of “net” and “etiquette” and refers to a set of guidelines for proper online behavior. Netiquette not only applies to how and where you use your smart device but also to the content of your communication. As with the written word, spelling and grammar are of the utmost importance as corporate websites or blog articles littered with typos can really deter a would-be client. Having said that, certain online abbreviations commonly used in SMS messages were added this year to the Oxford English Dictionary, including LOL, OMG and TTYL. Typing solely in capitals is not good practice, however, and IMPLIES THAT YOU’RE SHOUTING!

Deciding which new age words are now socially acceptable is often a challenge. The Oxford Dictionary of English has been increasingly infected by web-based slang over the last few years and some of the latest words to be included in the dictionary are: chillax (meaning to calm down and relax) and defriend (meaning to remove someone from your list of friends / contacts on a social networking site). These now commonly used words reflect the way that our everyday language is being influenced by the digital world. At some stage in the future let’s hope that someone will organize a tweetup (a meeting set up by means of posts on Twitter) and actually create a set of socially acceptable rules to live by in this new digital age!

Probably the most important rule of Netiquette is “think before you post”. Not everything that happens to you is worth blogging or tweeting but when it is, make sure that you’re comfortable that your words won’t come back to bite you and that the “digital footprint” you’ve created is one you can live with.

At KeySo Global we are advisors and consultants about the impact of digital technology on society, business and individuals. Please contact us at info@keysoglobal.com, +1-847-478-1633 or visit our website www.keysoglobal.com

Alison Bell, Social Media Manager, KeySo Global LLC