Living in a connected world comes with certain rights and responsibilities. It is important that we all observe some common rules in order to make our virtual communication both worthwhile, and not misunderstandable while respecting each other’s rights. Here are a few important things to remember:
- Let’s start with the most basic – when you write something in all caps IT IS LIKE YOU ARE YELLING AT YOUR AUDIENCE. Don’t be that person.
- Be careful of your tone – reread your email or posting to make sure it can’t be misconstrued. Sarcasm is oftentimes hard to detect in the written word, so be careful about using it.
- Keep your emails and posts short and to the point. With so much digital information flowing at us every day the short, concise email or posting is much more likely to be read and responded to.
- If you are going to share things online that are not your own original works, make sure you have permission to share them. Simply citing where a photo comes from is not going to help you if that photo is copyrighted. Copyrighted materials require written permission in order to be used. Check this site for tons of free media resources that exist within either the public domain or are licensed under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license. These images and videos and sound clips you can share to your hearts content – as long as you follow the license and cite the source as/when requested.
- Be nice. The Dalai Lama once said “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” This is a good rule to live by online. Just because someone appears to you as only an avatar, there is a living being, with feeling, behind every avatar. Be mindful of that before you fire back something angry or hateful.
- If you are going to share the ideas of someone else online be sure to give credit where credit is due. Cite your source. Don’t allow people to think that someone else’s words are your own.
- Please use proper English. I know that sometimes you need to abbreviate a word in order to make your entire thought fit into a Tweet. However, mangling written English just because you are posting online is horrific and does not represent you as an intelligent individual.
- Consider who you have listed as friends on social media sites. It is only human to judge someone by the company they keep. If your feed is full of rants and curse words courtesy of your friends, it may be time to consider blocking their ability to post to your timeline, or “unfriending” them all together.
- And finally, remember that everything you do online leaves behind a footprint. Whether you retract it or take it down, it is still out there, somewhere. Make sure that what you post is something that you would want (a) everyone to see, and (b) to live on forever as a representation of you.
This is most certainly not an all encompassing list, but it is a starting point and contains many of the most important points regarding being a good citizen in a connected world. I would love to hear your additions or thought on the list in the comments section. Please, share away, for knowledge is only valuable when shared.