Digital etiquette: stick to these 5 principles

Do you stumble over the unwritten rules in the digital age? You don’t have to anymore if you stick to these 5 principles. I’ll take you through the digital etiquette of today.

Essential rules for the digital age

In the book No texting while eating and other indispensable rules for the digital age (affiliate) Sanne Kanis and Aaron Mirck discuss 30 digital etiquette issues. They guide you through a world of video calling, dick pics, boastful LinkedIn posts, emoji babies, disappointing dating apps, screen time overdose and annoying group chats.

Now I can of course describe in detail what I think you should do with dick pics and whether it’s okay to keep an eye on your cat with a camera or to eat during an online call, but I won’t. So you have to read the book for that to find out what clash.

What I do want to talk about are 5 digital principles that help you to be friendly and social online. That is becoming increasingly important if you ask me, because the number of people who think that online everything is possible is growing. Not okay if you ask me.

Testing online situations for the right manner

You can make a difference by being more aware of technology and adhering to digital etiquette. There will always be new etiquette issues that no one will agree on yet. We still don’t agree on what is desirable. That is why Kanis and Mirck have drawn up the digital principles that give you direction if you are in doubt about the right way to behave. You can test any online situation against these principles. They ensure that you do not behave anti-socially and that daily social interaction runs as smoothly as possible.

The 5 questions you can ask yourself if you are unsure whether you are being polite are:

  1. Would I also do this offline?
  2. Is this also possible without technology?
  3. Am I endangering myself or others?
  4. Am I sufficiently considerate of others whom I do not see?
  5. Would I want to be treated like this myself?

Let’s go through them one by one.

Would I also do this offline?

We all have certain ethical rules, standards and values ​​for everyday life. Those rules don’t just apply offline. You think people should be nice to each other, so when you’re talking to someone, you don’t clear out your inbox. Why would you text while eating? You don’t swear at someone if you don’t agree with them.

So why do discussions escalate online so often? Because we think we can behave differently online than offline. We don’t see the other ‘in real life’ and we have our online mask on. Behind or through a screen we are more antisocial and individualistic. Be persistent and always ask yourself: would I do this face-to-face? If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t be doing it online either.

Is this also possible without technology?

You can place a camera in your house to keep an eye on your pet. You can order everything online. You can look at your screen twenty-four hours a day. You can announce major life events with a digital map. Looking for a partner, a job, meaning, mental peace or a meal? Don’t worry, there’s an app for that. But does that make us happier?

Ask yourself if technology is necessary or if you can manage without it. This leaves more room for encounters with strangers, mystery, spontaneity or boredom. In short: everything that makes us human and makes life worth living. Click, scroll, swipe, order and stream in moderation. This way you don’t get dragged into all the negativity online and it’s easier not to respond to it if you do come across it.

Am I endangering myself or others?

Are you careful enough? Just as you have a house key and don’t leave your valuables lying around, but store them safely, you should also handle your digital assets. It’s time for good password management and/or the use of two-step verification. Make sure you don’t run unnecessary privacy risks by not sharing all your information online. Respect the privacy of others, for example by not unsolicitedly tagging friends in photos, not just posting photos of your children or not googling your date extensively. I still have to work on that last bit myself…

Am I sufficiently considerate of others whom I do not see?

Who pays the cost of delivering free food? The delivery guys. Who pays the costs for the free return of your package? The warehouse workers. Look beyond your nose. Do what is good for the environment and society. In this increasingly digital world, there are always people you can overlook. Try to keep that in mind.

Would I want to be treated like this myself?

What you do not want done to you, do not do to others. It was and still is that simple. Treat others with respect online: on social media, in dating apps and during meetings, by being on time, being friendly and communicative. Be considerate of others: don’t ghost your date by suddenly disappearing without saying anything, don’t lend other people’s passwords to third parties and limit work emails and apps to office hours so that others can really relax.

These principles sound so simple, yet they turn out to be difficult in practice. Maybe you could write them on a memo and stick them on your screen or hang them up in the office. Let’s treat each other nicely, both offline and online. Then the world will be a lot more fun.

Don’t text while eating

Kanis and Mirck write entertainingly and yet what they say really hits the mark. In the grind of the day, we often stop thinking about what is appropriate online and go along with what we see happening around us. It don’t text while eating (affiliate) gives you new insights into certain digital situations and makes you think: can you still look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day?

Source: Frankwatching by

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