Good Manners in the Digital Age

by | Mar 11, 2014

The world has changed so fast that it\’s hard to know how to behave these days. Old rules don\’t apply and new ones haven\’t been created yet. Suffice it to say consideration for the other guy is the key to good manners, and we don\’t need Emily Post to tell us that. But when it comes to social media, it\’s easy to push some pet peeve buttons even if you are generally a thoughtful person.

Here are some things to consider:

You know you should turn off your ring tone and never, ever talk on your cell at the movies. But have you thought about how the light from your phone might bother others when you are silently checking e-mail or texting your friend about the plot? Just turn it off and keep it off. Don\’t even take it out of your purse or pocket. You\’re there to see the movie. See it.

Likewise, you know the person you are with is more important that the person who texts you during your intimate dinner for two. Or any dinner, for that matter. Resist the temptation to pick up your phone. Turn it off. Put it away. People have made an effort to be in the same proximity as you. They\’ll stop doing that if you tell them how unimportant they are by paying more attention to your iPhone.

Walk along any city street, any aisle in a department store, or any other crowded place. People have their heads down, their fingers flying. And whack! You have to be quick to dodge all the people who aren\’t watching where they\’re going. It\’s dangerous out there! Don\’t add to the mayhem. Put your phone away so you can avoid collisions. And need I add, never text and drive?

You\’ve been to a great party or gathering of friends. You want to share the joy on Facebook, which is fine until Aunt Clara sees she wasn\’t invited to the family reunion. Be sure to think about others\’ feelings when you post. If you were with friends, ask them if it\’s okay to post their photos. And don\’t steal someone\’s thunder before they get a chance to post first. It\’s their birthday or victory party or hole in one. Ask before you spill the beans that aren\’t really yours to spill.

Speaking of spilling the beans, be careful about posting plot twists of Downton Abbey or the score of the big game before everyone\’s had a chance to come home and rev up the DVR. Nobody likes a spoiler, and you don\’t want to be one.

Don\’t forget what you learned in kindergarten. Share. Obsessive Facebook trolling, ‘liking\’ post after post without contributing your own is annoying. If you find it risky to tell the universe what you\’re thinking, then don\’t stalk the fringes of Facebook. Either participate or don\’t. It\’s that simple.

If you want to promote your book or your business or yourself, fine. Create a separate account for that. But really, no one will buy your book if that\’s all you talk about on Facebook. It\’s the quickest way to get people to skip your post without reading it.

One more thing: If you talk on the phone in a crowded place—especially where people are held captive on a train or bus and have to listen to you—you\’d better make it short and sweet. Better yet, don\’t do it at all. We really don\’t want to hear the details of your gall bladder operation. Or anything else for that matter.

So all this is common sense, really. Just think about the ramifications of your actions and you\’ll be fine. And the social medial world will thank you.


Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here:



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