These days, we all spend a lot of our lives online. We work online, socialize online, shop online and do basically every other thing imaginable on the internet.
While the World Wide Web may feel more like the wild, wild west, it’s actually real life, and thus, the basic rules of etiquette still apply in virtual settings.
There are also special rules involving email etiquette, workplace etiquette and social media etiquette that means you could be acting rudely online without even realizing it.
Oversharing your life
It’s natural to want to share the big things — both good and bad — in your life online; that’s the whole point of social media, after all. But there’s a difference between sharing a throwback photo of your wedding day on your anniversary or letting people know that your husband has the flu and sharing nitty, gritty details of your everyday life.
Gushing about every little thing your significant other does for you or posting a photo of a gnarly injury is a surefire way to annoy and potentially disturb your acquaintances. Some things are best kept private or shared with a more limited audience of close friends and family.
Typically, bringing up touchy topics like politics is a major breach of etiquette, but discussing and debating politics online is a part of modern conversation and democracy. However, proceed with caution.
No matter your political leanings, about half of your social network is going to be offended by or disagree with anything you post. Think about the purpose of your political post. Is it to share news and inform others or is it just to stir the pot?
Vet your sources and make sure they’re not one-sided or spreading misinformation. And if you do engage in political debates online, be sure to inform yourself, avoid personally insulting others and know when to simply agree to disagree.
There’s a difference between being proud of your and your loved one’s accomplishments and bragging, so tread with caution when sharing news of a promotion, your child’s good grades or any other personal or familial success.
Say something like “I’m so proud of how well Noah is doing in school” instead of “Noah has gotten straight As for the fourth semester in a row.”
While your kid may be thriving academically, there are likely kids in your social network who are struggling, and the news of others’ excessive success may be hurtful.
Ranting and complaining
We all need to let off some steam every now and then; it’s one of those “bad” habits that’s actually good for you. Work, current events and the people around us can be irritating, but constantly complaining and ranting on social media is a guaranteed way to annoy the people around you.
If you feel the need to rant or complain, call a trusted friend or family member to vent for five minutes or so (but keep your time ranting limited). You can also write all your feelings down in a letter to get it out of your system without affecting other people.
Responding positively to RSVPs and not attending events
Yes, you should respond to an invitation as soon as possible, and of course that extends to e-vites as well, whether they be via social media or email. While it may be tempting to respond positively to an invitation immediately, only do so if you actually plan on attending.
An online invite can feel less binding, but hosts depend on honest responses. Everything about throwing a party, from the amount of food and drinks needed to the space and number of chairs needed, depends on numbers.
Scrolling endlessly through dating apps
Online dating apps and websites like Bumble, Tinder, Match and eHarmony can feel more like games and less like a way to make a connection. But those photos and short bios are attached to real, living and breathing people, and those folks need to be treated as such.
It can be hard to know how to navigate dating apps, but endlessly scrolling through apps and making matches with no intention of actually talking to the other person is one of the worst dating etiquette mistakes, even if it doesn’t feel like it to you.