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Posts Tagged ‘etiquette

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When I was growing up, I learnt many of the etiquette skills and expectations in the video above. My lessons were a combination of parenting, schooling, and officer training. (Aside: I wonder how much of that happens today.)

Whatever I was taught, I had to practice the how, what, and when, but I was never really told why. Well, other than it was the proper and polite thing to do.

As a child, teen, and young adult, the insistence on following such stiff rules with no apparent logic seemed ridiculous. But as the demonstrator in the video mentioned, etiquette is about showing respect to others in social contexts.

An adult who learnt such etiquette might realise the importance of transferring that principle online. How many kids learn dining etiquette now? Do netizens today learn the equivalent of etiquette online and apply them in person? More importantly, do they learn why?

I am not referring to “cyberwellness” in theory, but about embodied practice. I am not talking about case studies (engaging as they may be), but about having models and mentors who demonstrate and correct.

This is important. It is the fourth R — respect.

WhatsApp groups: Bane or boon? It depends how you use them.

A basic Google search will reveal the many sites that suggest how to be civil in a WhatsApp chat group. I weigh in with recommendations from an educator’s point of view.

Don’t spam.

  • Don’t send ten messages when one will do.
  • Refrain from providing resources or starting discussions that are off-topic.
  • Send a private message to one person instead of sending to all in a group, especially when the topic is not relevant to the rest.

Respect boundaries of time and space.

  • If you start a group, establish and enforce communication window periods. As supportive as a group space might be, we also need to rest and spend time with loved ones.
  • Avoid over sharing unnecessary details. TMI is like PDA; less is more.

Don’t send large photos or video files.

  • We do not all have the same tolerance, bandwidth, data plan, or storage space for large files.
  • Do send links from reputable and secure cloud-based sites like Google Drive or Dropbox instead.

Include context in replies.

  • You are inside your own head whereas others might not understand to whom and to what you are referring.
  • Long-press on a message to reply with context.

Don’t use too many emojis if you want to be understood clearly or taken seriously.

  • Text is easy to misinterpret; emoji even more so. WhatsApp messages tend to be concise, so it is critical to be clear.
  • This is particularly important if the WhatsApp group comprises of individuals from different backgrounds and cultures.

Check your spelling and grammar.

  • This is particularly important when you are included in a professional group or if you represent an organisation.
  • This is not about following someone else’s standards; it is about showing what yours are.

Don’t be an ass.

  • If you are, pretend not to be one. Be polite. Say please and thank you.
  • Consider how you might say something in person, then dial it back a notch or two. The missing social cues make this necessary.
  • If others do not reciprocate, you can mute the group or leave it.

This is not an exhaustive list. It is an easy one I compiled by comparing my experiences in WhatsApp with my son’s and asking him what his recommendations might be.

I was a bit surprised by how much our thoughts overlapped. But I was not that surprised because human connection with civility — WhatsApp etiquette in this case — is something even kids value.


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