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  • Alex VonHalle

The Simple Rules of being Polite Online

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

When online, there are infinite possibilities regarding who you may talk to. Every day holds the potential for a new interaction as peoples daily lives sends them across all corners of the internet. With this being the case, it is impossible to have a simple method of communication that works with everyone. With that thought In mind, I have thought up a list of rules to use when online should be applicable in any conversation.

1. Be as Polite as if you were in person

There is a sense of anonymity to be found when online, when it is incredibly likely that you are talking to someone who cannot see your real face and name. This gives people a sense of security that lowers their inhibitions, feeling they can say more of what they feel without needing to fear the consequences. However, even if this is true, that does not give a user cart blanche to be rude and deplorable to other users. When speaking to others in real life, one should use their manners, and it is the same on the internet.

A subset of this is using respectful language, such as referring to people by their preferred names and titles.

2. Use proper grammar and punctuation.

When online (excluding voice calls such as on the Discord social media app), communication between people lacks the context clues that come from specific emphasis and intonations of words. As such, a single sentence can have a wider variety of meanings than what the speaker means, both negative and positive. As such, having the most close to form grammar and punctuation are critical in order to reduce the chances of misunderstandings.

3. Share with Discretion

This rule is about not sending just anything to or from someone you are talking to. Sending images of yourself naked, drunk, under the influence of drugs or in any unflattering light can be dangerous at the best of times. In order to prevent the posting of such things on the internet, do not send them at all, to anyone.

4. Choose friends wisely

When online, more often than not anyone you interact with will never see your face or even know your real name. With so much anonymity, it is easy for people to lose their inhibitions and be looser with who they interact with along with how. Do not automatically act friendly with everyone, but spend time gauging them for what kind of person they are online. This will prevent form making friends with someone that is dangerous.

5. Don't Exclude Others.

While making sure you are safe from unpleasant and dangerous people on the internet is important, those methods can become a problem without careful thought and planning. If you apply those blocking methods to full, the you will more than likely exclude good people as well as the bad ones. It is best to allow people to be around you for a bit before deciding if they are someone you want to be friends with.

On a lighter note, you also don't want to exclude any of your friends from something. Keeping an inside joke between you and someone else excludes a third party, so remember to let them be involved if it is not too personal for that level of friendship.

6. Respect People's privacy.

Building on the end of the last point, please do not try to pry into people's personal lives online. Just as you most likely have something(s) you want to keep private or just limited to a certain group of people, the people you interact with online may have something very similar. It is not your place to try to force it out of them. If you do end up in their personal zone, it should be with their permission.

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