I recently came across my copy of the latest edition of “Emily Post’s Etiquette.” I interviewed Emily’s great-great grandson a while ago for an article about the book, which had a new section on communication and technology. Just for laughs I thumbed through it to see how I’m doing.
Turns out, I’m an inconsiderate boor…. and you probably are too.
The book suggests manners are for everyone, not just old ladies at dinner parties. Though most of the advice is common sense, it’s astonishing how often we violate basic etiquette rules. The Post guidelines– based on principles of respect, consideration and honesty—have remained the same since 1922 and still ring true.
Technology has drastically changed the way we communicate, but shouldn’t alter the way we treat each other. Here are 7 basic tenets of modern netiquette. See how many you’ve breached today:
— Always respond within a day or two to personal emails, and within 24 hours for business mails. And check with friends and family before forwarding spam.
— Never interrupt a conversation to answer a call, email or text. And don’t use a smart phone in a place of worship, theater, or restaurant, or during a meeting or presentation. (If you’re expecting an urgent call, set your device to vibrate and check it later, or move to a private space and speak quietly.)
— If a call gets disconnected, the person who initiated the call should redial the other person and apologize, even if it’s the phone carrier’s fault.
— Don’t type, eat, shuffle papers or do anything that tells the caller your attention is elsewhere. And never, ever “call from the stall”; nothing ends a conversation quicker than a toilet flush.
— Don’t overtext. Ask yourself if you would call someone on the phone as often as you’re sending text messages.
— Anything you email, text or post online is considered a public document, so make sure it would be fit for a community bulletin board before you send it.
— You’re not required to respond to every person who contacts you on Facebook, and it’s perfectly acceptable to unfriend someone, untag yourself from photos, or delete a friend’s comment from your page. But always ask permission before posting a friend’s good news or event photos.
The Posts believe human contact still matters, and people should talk in person whenever possible. Remember talking to people?
I tried to live by Post rules after my article came out and I was amazed at how often people disregarded common decency and respect. But more than a year later, I’m just as rude as the next keyboard-punching, loud-talking, interrupting clod.
It’s hard to correct others who ditch decorum, but you can at least try to set a good example. I’m on my best behavior now….are you?