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Digital Etiquette Tips

Internetting ain’t easy. There are all sorts of digital quagmires we get ourselves into putting words onto a screen and hitting send or post. It’s a tricky time navigating communication across the digital world. Since Emily Post is busy sorting out which fork goes where, it’s time we turn to her predecessor “Emily Posted,” your digital etiquette guru. Here are her top suggestions for better relationships in the virtual world.

 

Digital Etiquette Tips for Non-trolls

If you’re not trying to be a troll or a “Karen” (sorry to all the nice Karens out there), here’s what you need to do in the digital domain.

 

  1. Avoid the Reply-All Rampage. Before sending anything on email or text, check the “to” line. No matter how clever your comment about your co-worker’s cat, do you really want everyone to know that you think Mr. Smoochy McMuffins would make a good throw pillow? Now everyone knows your true feelings and you’re the cause of a hostile work environment. Reply-all should NEVER be your detail setting. Speaking of…

 

  1. Don’t Be a Caps Lock Crusader. When you use all caps, you're yelling at everyone. WE GET IT, YOU'RE EXCITED, BUT OUR EYES NEED A BREAK. Your email is not a ransom note. Calm it down and release caps lock.

 

  1. Escape Emoji Overload. Oh, my fine friends. Emojis are not hieroglyphics. You don’t appear smarter for using them. If your emails and posts contain so many emojis that people need a decoder ring to figure out what you're saying, you have a communication problem. 🕵️‍♂️🔍🌈🍕🎉🙈🐢💃🏼 Note to the disgruntled person reading this now: I didn’t say not to use them, just try to use more words than poop symbols. There’s a professional ratio to adhere to. It’s published under the Meta algorithm.

 

  1. Don’t Be a Meme Machine. Bombarding group chats with endless memes, thinking you're the funniest person in the world, is according to F. Scott Fitzgerald akin to “laughing at your own jokes,” (actually he said that about using exclamation points. Don’t even get me started on those. Are you really that excited?!!!!!) Additionally, not everyone appreciates the subtle art of SpongeBob humor. But I do, so send those memes my way.

 

  1. Avoid the Voice Message Vortex. 1994 called. It wants you to check your voicemail. I know we all still have this feature on the phone, but no one uses it. I read voicemail transcriptions, which are…wait for it…texts. Think of this the next time you’re babbling on someone’s voicemail.

 

Also, don’t leave a voicemail and then text someone saying you left them a voicemail. That sounds a lot like a toddler butting into a grown-up’s conversation, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom.” Unlike in your marketing, one medium to get your point across is enough. Unless you haven’t heard from them in like two whole hours, and you need proof of life. Parents with kids who can drive get a special dispensation on this etiquette rule.

 

  1. Don’t Send Worthless Emails. This is going to make a lot of people angry, but I heard it straight from developers, so that gives it digital cred, which is like street cred but for the internet. If all you have to say in an email is “got it” or “thanks,” and NOTHING else (yeah, I got a little excited there) let it go. No response is better than clogging up someone’s congested inbox with a simple thanks. This advice is null and void if you have anything of substance to add such as “Thanks, did you also have time to look over those sponsorship materials?” or “Thanks, did you know today is free Slurpee Day?” That is vital information and requires passing it along.

 

  1. Avoid Producing an Attachment Franchise. Luckily, for most of us our email providers are getting smart enough to save us from ourselves but just in case, I’m adding this one because it’s an oldie and not a goodie. Ever have an email with an attachment become a franchise with a prequel, show, and sequel? Sure, you have. It goes something like this: First email: “Please see attached.” Second email: “Oops, forgot the attachment!” Third email: “Here it is for real this time.” Just don’t.

 

  1. Don’t Put on a Free Show. Most of us have forgotten to take ourselves off mute on Zoom, honest mistake. But worse is forgetting to mute yourself entirely and turning your dog’s barking or your partner’s singing into an unintended concert for your colleagues. Still, that’s better than not realizing your camera is on. You really should get paid for that kind of exposition.

 

  1. Be Judicious with Your Hashtags. Don’t use so many hashtags that your post looks like it’s been hijacked by a rogue bot. Also, emails don’t need hashtags. You also don’t need to use hashtags in real-life conversations. #PleaseStop #WeGetIt #EnoughAlready #EveryWordIsAHashtag

 

  1. If You’re Not 13, End the Text Tsunami. Sending multiple short texts in rapid succession instead of one comprehensive message, means (Murphy’s Law) we can bet whoever’s on the receiving end of that chain is undoubtedly in the most important meeting of their life or attending a funeral AND PEOPLE ARE PISSED.

 

  1. Ditch the Profile Picture Paradox. If you’re using a profile picture from ten years ago (or longer), people who see it and then meet you in person may wonder if they’ve been emailing with a time traveler. It’s time to switch out that Glamor Shot from the 80s. Instead use a current one with a subtle filter, if you really must. But don’t shock your audience when they first meet you or make them walk around at the conference looking for you (even though you’re standing right there) because they don’t recognize you from your online pic.

 

  1. Get Off the Social Media Soapbox. Stop posting lengthy, unsolicited rants about your personal views, turning your feed into a digital diary no one asked to read. If you don’t, know I am a reader, and I will read every one of them, and judge you for it. Thank you for the entertainment.

 

  1. Don’t Be a Group Chat Hijacker. People start a group chat for a reason. If you’re taking over group chats with off-topic conversations, turning a planning session for a picnic into a debate about the best type of cheese, know that someone out there has just silenced notifications from you, and this will be the last group chat you’re added to. Good luck finding out where that picnic is going to be held.

 

And…since we’re talking about group texts, there are a lot of fun mediums out there that allow groups of people to get all the same info in real time. This is ideal for urgent communication. However, thanking someone for telling you they’re at the location (or even giving them a thumb’s up) has now been shared with every member of that group. And then someone responds telling you not to post junk like that (but they use a more colorful 4-letter term), and then another posts that the responder should be kind, and then someone says be a better human, and then another tells everyone it’s a free country, and now there are more texts in that chat than dollars in the national debt.

 

That is exactly why we need someone like Emily Posted. You’re welcome.

 


 

Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and is currently finished with her digital don’ts tirade.

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Medium: @christinametcalf

Facebook: @tellyourstorygetemtalking

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