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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.

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.

Andrea 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 eHow.com 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 www.callnerds.com/andrea.