Communicating in the Digital Age


Let’s talk about the general concept of Manners.  The mere idea makes the average person say either “I have all the manners I need” or “Manners? That’s for fancy people I don’t have any use for them” 

Gone are the days of relying on introductions to be made by mutual acquaintances. Today we have the ability (and sometimes, we believe, the implied right) to send written communications to almost anyone we chose. Such communications may be digital, but they are as indelible as written letters which were written, proofed and sent with care. Modern communication is convenient, fun and efficient, but the ease of accessibility requires a level of responsibility never required before. 

We must remember that anything that we post can and will be read by many today and possibly someday in the future.  So we must be careful in our words and our pictures.  Think before hitting that button to send, “Is this too personal?” “Do I really want everyone to know this?”  “Are my words kind?” “Will I hurt anyone with these words?” “Do people really need to see everything that I am eating?”” To what purpose is this text?”  Privacy is so very important and it is slowly being taken away.  You are unknowingly also giving it away day by day, text by text, picture by picture. 

Getting back to manners, while we are sending out all of this private information we need to remember our manners. 

If you are posting a photo of several people, please ask their permission first if it would be ok for you to post it online.  Personally, I just had this happen, I was visiting some friends in the Midwest and we all posed for a photo at dinner.  One of the people at the dinner party immediately posted the photo on Facebook.  I was no sooner in my room when I received a nasty email from a friend who lived in the town where I was visiting asking why I did not call and let them know I was in town.   I would have liked to have avoided that conversation. 

Please do not post photos of others children on line without their parents’ permission. With face recognition software it is quite easy to match up a name with a face. Children should be allowed to remain private as long as they can.

Do not talk poorly about someone online, it can be easily forwarded and will forever be out there in cyberspace for all to see.

If you feel the need to post photos of all of your adventures please hold back.  This is a form a bragging and we all know that bragging is really not a very nice thing to do. Back in 1968 Andy Warhol coined the expression “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Little did he know how true his words would become in 2013.  It seems that everyone believes that they need to be the center of attention and that people are desperate to follow their every move. I would caution us to remember the words of Miss Stickland in The Pocket Magazine of Classic and Polite Literature, 1832.

'Tis absense, however, that makes the heart grow fonder.

People will be more interested in you if you are more discrete in your communications. A Little mystery still goes a long way.

I was at a very important business meeting a few weeks ago, where we were telling a client some very unhappy news.  My colleague was texting throughout the entire meeting. I was not sure if he was even paying attention.  This was so disrespectful to the client as well as disrespectful to the subject of the meeting.  When you are with others remember to put away the phone, they are to believe that they are the most important thing to you at that moment and that there is nothing that will take away your attention. 

When dining, how many times have a seen people not interacting with each other but just looking down at their cell phones interacting with it?  It is important to remember those that are around us.  That they are what is important, because if we don’t soon we will all be alone with our electronic devices and forget how to communicate face to face.  Helpful tip: Do not place your cell phone on the table while eating.  Put it in your pocket, your car, your purse anywhere preferably turned off or on silent mode.

 Never write something in an email that you wouldn’t want published in a newspaper. Even if you are sending it to someone that you trust, emails with sensitive, mean or potentially embarrassing information have a way of being forwarded beyond your original audience. 

 Remember manners are all about making others feel more comfortable.  That is all it really is, so before you do anything in the new world of electronic communication, ask yourself “How will this make others feel?”  If the answer is “I’m not sure?” then take a moment to rethink your post.   

Having good manners and being able to properly present oneself is no longer a luxury, but a necessity in today’s increasingly competitive society.  It enables individuals to feel comfortable with themselves, with others, to communicate better, and to set a leadership example in school, in business or in any social situation. 

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"Manners are a sensitive awareness of others.  if you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use."

-Emily Post

American author on etiquette



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