The Need for Netiquette

The evolution of the internet has surely altered the way people communicate. The increased use of information and communication technologies (ICT) such as smart phones, tablets and laptops allow for seamless and efficient cross border collaboration. Today, online communication is the preferred medium of communication for most persons and business; essential for most of us to complete our daily task, both at home and at work. I also acknowledge that online communication is the future especially as the use of ICTs has become a basic human right since 2016, when the United Nations passed a resolution declaring access to the internet a human right.

The increased use of online communication has amplified the growing need for fostering positive online interactions with friends and colleagues. Online Etiquette, also known as Netiquette, creates a framework for acceptable online behaviour. Virginia Shea has noted that, “the term "netiquette" comes from the words, "Network" and "etiquette". The term was coined in the early days of the Internet when it was necessary to remind users that there were real people with real feelings behind email addresses and user IDs. Netiquette covers not only etiquette in chat rooms, social media sites, and in comments and discussion boards, but also in email, web surfing, and all interactions between online users. Each of these platforms has different netiquette rules that should be followed as Netiquette covers common courtesies which we have followed for many years. Every culture throughout history has established some sort of rules of engagement as a way to help people work together efficiently.

Here are some tips to educate you on some basic netiquette tools to help you collaborate online.
• Avoid using complicated language, terminology, slang, idioms or local acronyms.
• Avoid all caps, exclamation points, slang, overuse of bold, underline, and italics.
• Remember the people behind the machine.
• Watch your tone. Make sure it’s positive.
• Maintain similar standards of behaviour both in real life and online.
• Respect people by responding appropriately and on time.

In my opinion, netiquette transcends common courtesies online and touches on the integrity needed for the proper functioning of today’s society. If we take responsibility and demonstrate strong moral principles it creates a deeper self-awareness which clears the way for uncovering one’s best nature. When responding to a message I ask myself, “would you say this if the individual was physically present”. It is also important to think about how our online exchanges can be interpreted or misinterpreted. The smallest error could change the meaning of your message. Before clicking send I look over the message to ensure that it conveys exactly what was intended and therefore I am able to share my thoughts in a respectful and positive manner.

In my current role within the Republic Group, I lead teams residing in six East Caribbean islands. With this in mind, when I am communicating online I like to remind myself that my words are meant to engage and inspire our team members. To put it simply, it is important for me to consider how the language I use can affect the team especially in light of the virtual nature of online communication. Along my life’s journey, I try to be flexible in my interactions and style of communicating with people of different backgrounds and nationalities, and as a result my understanding and acknowledgement of the cultural differences across islands has truly shaped my style of communication.

For 2023 and beyond, it is important to reflect on the role that netiquette should play in our lives. Netiquette, or the code of conduct governing our online interactions, has evolved significantly in the past three years, and it is important to consider how it will continue to evolve in the future. Netiquette will continue to be a key aspect of online communication and as technology advances, the need for clear and concise communication will only become critical for the proper functioning of our online environment. With the advent of new devices and platforms, the rules of netiquette may change, but the need for etiquette will assist people to understand what is socially acceptable when collaborating online.

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