Jacqueline: Hello. Today’s topic is digital etiquette. D is for digital etiquette in our STEAM alphabet series SIP episodes. Let’s talk about digital etiquette, also known as netitquette (the internet). Digital etiquette is a basic set of rules you should follow in order to make the internet better for others and better for yourself. This topic is quite timely, as you will see.
Yes, we all have that Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated, and that should be applied in all things. But, there are some specifics around digital, and as we talk about this topic more, you’ll see how powerful the internet is, just the shear volume of the people you are reaching and connecting with. It also proves that words have power, and hurtful words have a lot of power. It’s ironic, because there are a lot of things, especially in the United States, that is coming to everyone’s attention, especially when you have someone of power—specifically, the president of the United States.
With the words they say, how they say them, and how they’re using the internet, it’s becoming very clear why this conversation about digital etiquette is so important, whether it’s being negative or even a new term that’s becoming very popular, creating “fake news.” By just even putting it out there, people are going out of their way to create fake news, now. It has become a form of entertainment, even, which means it’s going to water down what you can trust on the internet. So, all of these things, when we talked 10-20 years ago, we didn’t have to talk about these type of things. Now, information is being delivered in a whole new, unfiltered way, which means we have to work harder and look closer to our own filters as adults and also help filter what young people and children are exposed to.
There is said to be a significant rise of suicide among high school and even elementary school children, and some of that is a result of cyber bullying. Again, before you had the internet and technology being a part of people’s everyday lives, you went to school and got bullied but you went home and you were safe. But no, young people get on their laptops and mobile devices, and that bullying follows them home. That said, digital etiquette is very real, and what a lot of organizations are pushing is for schools to actually teach digital etiquette and learning the impact of people’s actions.
Let me read a little bit more from an excerpt I’m taking from digiteen on wikispaces.com. I always like to cite my various resources. This is digiteen.wikispaces.com. Search on digital etiquette. It says, it’s just as important to treat people with courtesy and respect online as it is in real life. When you instant message, chat, or email someone over the internet, they can’t see your face to tell if you’re teasing them or saying something in jest. How do you practice good Netiquette? It’s simple: treat people with courtesy and respect. Don’t say anything on the internet that you wouldn’t say to their face. People know these rules but usually do not follow when using the internet. The internet kind of depersonalizes things, and this is from my own opinion. It depersonalizes, and there for it’s easier to be extra mean and extra nasty. Digital etiquette also includes checking your moral compass, because it includes not hacking other people’s computer, not downloading things illegally, not plagiarizing, or simply not using bad language. All of that falls under digital etiquette. If all of us follow this it could make the internet a better space to share and use.
The power of the internet has been proven with people circulating opinions and false information. Once you put something out there on the internet, it can spread very quickly, and it’s easy to access. So, rumors and urban legends that I know were proven to be false are still circulating over and over. A new group gets a hold of it, and once again, rumors are circulating. We’ve even seen the spread of the death of celebrities. People buy-in to it and believe it, so now when you see something, you have to hesitate and fact check. And that’s ok. You should fact check, especially before you start spreading it to your social network come to find out something’s not true. Some people are pushing for the use of your real name as a user ID. That’s because a lot of people can do things on the internet anonymously, so you don’t know who they are, and they’re hiding behind personas.
On top of that, there’s a whole series. I’m quite intrigued with it; it’s called Catfish. It’s a TV show that started out as a movie of someone that was catfished. Catfishing is when someone reaches out to a person socially using a false name and even stealing other people’s pictures and identity. A guy thinks he’s talking to a beautiful woman, and vice versa, the woman might be thinking she’s talking to this great-looking guy, fit and the whole nine. They build relationships, and if you ever watch the Catfish series, the interesting thing is these people develop relationships over 3-5 years and even longer. I’m talking about 3 to 5 years that they’re building these relationships. They’re getting engaged, they might be sending money and even sending engagement rings without ever have meeting the real person. Then through Catfish, they track down the person. They have ways to search on the photos to find out who the photos really belong to, and they expose the fake person. There’s a whole term: it’s called catfishing.
This is, again, how powerful the internet can be. Hurtful words. We recently had in the news a case where someone encouraged someone else to commit suicide, texting them things like “it’s quick and painless,” and “just do it.” And the person actually did it. Even a pop singer named U;Nee back in 2007. Hurtful words about her singing and her talent were shared, and before you knew it, she had committed suicide. If you saw her videos, music was something she enjoyed. Her career was on the upstream, and she looked happy and bright. But, behind the scenes, she felt depressed and lonely, and those hurtful words pushed her over the edge. She was only 20 years old, 25 when she died.
Another thing about social media and the whole digital etiquette is getting people to understand that there are real people with real feelings, and you don’t always know their full story. Being careful; not using it for your entertainment. There’s even another new term that has come out called “Techdirt.” Techdirt is an organization that did a study that showed that many people purposely responded to emails late at work, because replying too quickly implies they do not have enough work to do. However, it appears the situation may be somewhat different when it comes to instant messaging and SMS (text) messages. A study in the UK among office workers found that many consider it to be rude if you don’t reply to IM or SMS messages quickly. That’s the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication. Even if email and text messaging may seem similar, it appears people have different expectations of different types of messaging.
I will say with the instant messaging, the SMS messaging, the text messaging, what happens is you’re almost expected socially to always be on call. People sleep with their phones right next to their bed, having the notifications wake them up in the middle of the night and feeling they have to respond. Being always on call. So, there’s a whole push, now, for people to unplug. All of these are important topics that tie-in to digital etiquette: what the rules are, what to do, what not to do, how to keep your information safe (your passwords), how to keep from and avoid being hacked.
Respecting that when you put stuff out on the internet, it’s out there forever. You might be young and know the whole idea of sexting, sending pictures of yourself. That might be cute and fun when you’re in puppy love or your first love, but as you decide to pursue a career where integrity is important and these pictures resurface, it can come back to haunt you.
Another thing when it comes to digital etiquette is be careful about what you’re clicking on. There are plenty of scams. It’s so easy to scam people. Clicking a link and creating a virus or locking up your computer. And guess what? Companies and corporations aren’t immune. I’ll talk all about the topic of cyber security. Even hospitals have fallen prey. A trojan was sent out, locked up all of their files, and then made them pay a ransom in order to get the key to unlock their files to run their company.
Digital etiquette is real. Everyone that’s holding a device and using the internet is now a digital citizen. That said, be smart, do some more research, make sure you’re educated on this topic, and stay on top of it. Thank you for joining us for today’s SIP. Our word for today, D is for digital etiquette. Join us for the rest of our A2Z STEAM topics. Bye for now.