Nerd Chick Adventures: Netiquette for the Digital Age

As children we were taught that there are a few cornerstones to polite social interactions: don’t interrupt someone when they’re speaking, say please and thank you and always send a written thank you note. Yet in today’s world of texts, emails, Facebook posts and tweets, many of the basic guidelines we try to follow in face-to-face interactions can be easily overlooked.

One of the biggest challenges of written communication such as email and texting is the inability to convey tone or humor. Because people can’t see your facial expression or hear the tone in your voice, they won’t be able to tell whether you’re being sarcastic or serious and hurt feelings can arise when you’re just kidding.

Written Rules

To combat this, communicate clearly and to the point. Always re-read what you write before you click “send,” checking tone, grammar and spelling. Make sure what you’ve written is similar to what you’d say face-to-face. Remember to include the please and thank you that you’d have conveyed in person.

  • When emailing, avoid using abbreviations that you would use when texting, such as LOL or “l8rs.”
  • Don’t write in all caps or use too many exclamation points. These are perceived as “yelling” within electronic communications.
  • When sending or receiving emails involving multiple parties, follow some simple guidelines:
    1. When responding to an email, don’t click “Reply to All” – include only the recipients that need to hear from you.
    2. When forwarding an email, delete additional email addresses from the attached messages.
    3. Remove any comments in email strings that should be kept private between the parties involved.
    4. Use the BCC when sending an email to a large number of recipients. They’ll thank you for not broadcasting their email address to the world.

According to research conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 85% of American adults have a cell phone and79% of cell phone owners use text messaging. The chime or buzz of an incoming call or text can be distracting and alluring, leading many of us to utilize our mobile devices at inopportune times.

Common Courtesy

First and foremost, remember that the person standing in front of you is vastly more important than the text message you just received. Don’t interrupt your conversation with digital distractions.

When you’re talking on the phone in public, be aware of your surroundings and try to keep your voice down. Don’t discuss your personal life on your cell phone in the office or in a restaurant. Not only does this show a consideration for others around you, but it protects your privacy as well. Try to make it brief so you don’t disturb the people in your carpool with a lengthy conversation.

When you’re in a crowded environment, don’t crank up the sound on your Angry Birds game. Either mute the volume or wear solid-fitting ear buds so others around you are not disturbed. Just don’t forget to remove your earphones when someone is trying to talk to you!

Lastly, turn off your devices completely when you enter church, a movie theater or the library. Even vibe-mode can be really disturbing to others trying to concentrate.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project also found that 66% of adults who access the Internet use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn. Remember the internet is NOT a private place – parents, teachers and employers are frequently able to see what you post.

Don’t ever post something about someone else before checking with them first. You could ruin a relationship or in the very least unintentionally embarrass someone that you care about.

Try to keep your posts positive and avoid posting anything that is not true or gossip-related. Not only will these types of posts influence the way people perceive you, but they can also cause hurt feelings or make people feel like they’re being bullied. Definitely avoid posting when you’re angry or frustrated.

AndreaAndrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, an on-site computer and laptop repair service for consumers and businesses. Andrea is the writer of two weekly columns, Computer Nerds On Call a nationally syndicated column for Scripps-Howard News Service, and Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She regularly appears on ABCCBSFOXNBCThe CW, and CNN on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, Good Morning Arizona and MORE Good Day Portland, offering viewers easy tips on technology, Internet lifestyle, and gadgets. Andrea recently has begun working with Demand Media to produce content for and has written a book for them Smartphone 101: Integrating Your iPhone Into a Windows World. Andrea is available for Q & A’s, expert tech quotes and will appear on your show, call today! See Andrea in action at

Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, an on-site computer and electronics repair service for homes and businesses. Andrea established the company with her husband, Ryan, from a spare room in their home in Redding, California in March 2004. They have since expanded to locations throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Maryland, and most recently South Dakota. Nerds On Call provides repair and trouble-shooting for PCs and Macs, home and office networks, printers, iPods® and MP3 players, handheld devices and cell phones, home theaters and game systems. If it has an on/off button, Nerds On Call can probably fix it. Andrea is the celebrated columnist of Nerd Chick Adventures, which speaks to the novice computer user and runs weekly in the Redding Record Searchlight. She regularly appears as a guest tech correspondent on ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, Good Morning Arizona and MORE Good Day Portland, offering viewers easy tips on technology, Internet lifestyle, and gadgets. For more on Andrea Eldridge, fee free to contact her through our contact form.
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4 Responses

  1. Avatar Canda says:

    Great advice, Andrea. Getting into the electronic age has been quite a learning experience. I would love to have seen this article when I first started emailing. The Bcc and deleting other email addresses before forwarding have become my new pet peeve. If people don't do those two things it makes me crazy. Thanks again for the tips.

    p.s. Even in this day of electronic everything, I believe a thank you note in the mail is still greatly appreciated.

  2. Avatar Bill C. says:

    Great article! Including to remind us that sarcasm and wit do not readily appear in text messages, and can be misconstrued, leading to relationship problems.

    MOST IMPORTANT: Bcc when forwarding posts to many addresses.

    Also, Deleting "additional" names & addresses when Replying.

    I was told by my son that my Facebook settings allowed ALL of my friends & family's phone numbers to be accessed by anyone. Which I corrected immediately.

    I was also told to make sure you "sign out" when you are finished viewing Facebook. If not it may be open for everyone to see. (Please advise if this is correct or not)

    Thanks, Nerds on Call, you are great!

    Happy 2013!

  3. Avatar `AJacoby says:

    Sometimes when people forward to me, I like to see the header of those to whom they are sending as we have many mutual and I check that list so I don't forward to people that have already received the original e-mail. But yes, PLEASE DO take off all those headers of who sent to whom who then sent it to someone who then sent it to you.

  4. Avatar Robb Lightfoot says:

    Sage advice. Thanks.