by Julia Buckley
Has anyone written a book yet about electronic etiquette? I've seen enough offensive behavior (and probably committed some) that this sort of book would be helpful, assuming people would read it and take it to heart. In any case I'll offer some of my own suggestions here to see if people have the same pet peeves about rudeness in the electronic age.
First, of course, is e-mail. Here are my common sense guidelines:
--If someone sends you an e-mail, you should answer it, even if it's to say that you don't have time to respond at length and you'll get back to them some other time.
--The exception to the above rule is if someone sends you one of those annoying chain letters that suggests you are bound for hell unless you send something to eighteen other people. You don't have to answer those OR forward them.
--Don't send chain letters.
--If someone forwards you something (an interesting article, let's say), don't immediately forward it back to THEM as though it was your idea in the first place. I've sent interesting things to family members only to have them bounced back with a note like "Julia, you have to read this. It's really interesting!" I knew it was, which is why I sent it in the first place. To appropriate my article this way is to admit that you didn't pay any attention to my original e-mail. This is an electronic slap in the face.
Now, on to cell phones.
--PLEASE don't ignore your children just because you own a cell phone. It doesn't give you permission to talk all day instead of parenting (or babysitting). I've seen dispirited little fellows in baseball caps dragging their bats behind them while they wait for their caregivers to get off the phone and play with them. It's one of the saddest sights in the world, as was my sighting of the little girl at a restaurant with her father who sat waiting, in vain, for him to finish his business call.
--If you MUST drive while talking on your cell phone, please still make an attempt to drive well. I've been nearly sideswiped by drivers who couldn't efficiently make a left turn because they were clutching their phone in one hand. They generally shrug at me as if to say, "What could I do? I was on the phone."
--If you MUST talk on your cell phone at the store, don't keep the cashier waiting while you finish your call. You're holding up the whole line, and you're being rude in a very universal sense.
--This one might be controversial: If you're talking to ME in person and your cell phone rings, you are not obligated to answer it and talk to that other person. We were talking first.
These really just scratch the surface of my list of complaints (apparently I am quite the curmudgeon), but I'm curious to know what peeves other people have, or if they share any of these.
Can we still be polite in the electronic age?
(art link here).