When it comes to social media, comments sections and forum discussion boards, it seems that basic netiquette has all but disappeared. From personal insults to disparaging remarks, people on the Internet like to omit from their consciousness that there is another human being on the other end of the computer.
Essentially, the question that should be asked is: would I treat this individual the same way in person? The likely answer would be no. It’s important to treat everyone - whether they’re politically opposed to you, fans of the Miami Heat or think classical music is superior to rap - kindly and respectfully.
In the last couple of years, there has been a very small movement on the Internet to practice good "netiquette," a form of Internet etiquette whereby everyone treats others the way they want to be treated. There are also other netiquette rules to follow, such as avoiding typing in all-caps, refraining from being sarcastic and knowing not to forward a person’s email address without their permission.
The Internet has become an integral part of our lives, especially for the younger generation. As they establish a profile on the World Wide Web - social media, news websites, blogs, etc. - their behavior and persona online increasingly affects their career.
Over the past few years, there have been numerous reports of how someone’s comments on Twitter have affected their job because they were racist, sexist or vulgar. What you do online can seriously hurt your career path and future prospects (think of it as a permanent record).
Bottom line: millennials should always practice good netiquette. Before you post a comment, information, link or a question, ask yourself: is this something that would be read by my grandmother?
Here are five reasons why millennials and everyone else should practice good netiquette today:
As previously noted, how you conduct yourself online could translate over into real life. If you consistently harass women, send out racist tweets against people of Jewish descent or iterate your intense disdain for Republicans, then the company may consider this a negative portrayal of their own brand. If you have to unleash this aggression then do so anonymously.
Comments can become so abusive and insensitive that they can make it to the forefront of news media. This means their account information can be placed on a television news segment, inserted in the middle of a news article or sent viral for others to peruse.
Anyone remember what happened with Amanda Todd in British Columbia? Or what about this year’s incident with Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer’s wife, who was attacked online because her husband failed to win a game? The ones who did the attacking made the news and were then victims of abuse from bystanders themselves.
A person doesn’t have to be insulting to violate the rules of netiquette. Instead, a user can instead type in all caps, abuse spelling and grammar and use the common "LOLs" and "OMGs." This kind of behavior online can put yourself under scrutiny and place yourself in a less than positive spotlight. Proper spelling, a reduction of "LMAOs" and politeness can make the Internet experience a lot more enjoyable.
Visiting a news website like CNN will bring out the worst in people. Democrats want Republicans to die, while Republicans want Democrats to kill themselves. Political discourse is healthy in any free society, but when it metastasizes into a form of insults and death threats then it has gone too far. With good netiquette, the exchanging of ideas can be a lot more positive and less authoritative.
If you have decided to engage in a conversation regarding the role of artificial intelligence in society or if the New York Yankees should dump their entire payroll, then be sure to dedicate a certain portion of your attention to this debate. This means that you shouldn’t be multi-tasking with 20 different tabs open on your browser and essentially ignoring the discussion. If it takes you 11 minutes to respond to a comment it is rude. Imagine doing this in real life!
Introducing netiquette into your Internet conduct and life is a positive step to take because it can transform the sometimes toxic environment into a hub where concepts of exchanged, information are shared and kindness is embraced. Of course, netiquette isn’t all about exchanging pleasantries, but rather about how you’re using the Internet, too.
By the end of it all, you should be following this primary rule: don’t feed the trolls.