4 Serious Etiquette Tips for the Electronic Age

The new Etiquette Tips suggest that this practice is in poor taste...

When you were a kid, your parents (hopefully) taught you about proper etiquette: knock before entering a room, say “please” and “thank you,” chew with your mouth closed, keep elbows off the table, etc. While some of those manners are still essential, the world is a wildly different place than it was even 10 years ago. The abundance of smart devices in your home has revolutionized how you interact with other people, and you have probably developed more than a couple habits that would make your parents groan. Whether you’ve been sucked into the addicting world of playing Slither on Poki.com or just can’t get off Whatsapp, people are forgetting about reality sometimes.

To help ease social tensions in the electronic age, here are some simple etiquette tips everyone should remember ― especially when your parents aren’t around to teach you right from wrong.

Conversing Online

Social media is supposed to bring us closer together, but when so many people behave uncivilly online, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can actually drive us farther apart. Because being somewhat active on social media is imperative nowadays ― for job opportunities, information breaks, and more ― knowing how to communicate properly through digital means is absolutely necessary.

Inarguably, the most important lesson of social media etiquette is that you should always carefully consider what you share before letting anything go live. There are several reasons for this. First, inconsequential information simply clogs up others’ feeds, making the medium less interesting for everyone online. Second, though you might not see others’ reactions, words and images you post online definitely affect other people. E-gossip and cyber-bullying are real phenomena that have real ramifications on real lives.

Most significantly, anything you post online will be available forever. Though your comments and pictures may quickly disappear from your feed, surmounted by others’ posts, that data will be cached and live on into eternity. Future romantic partners, future employers, and even future children may be able to see your stupidest posts, which should be reason enough to think before you post.


It took decades to develop, but cigarette smokers fully comprehend proper etiquette. Unfortunately, it seems that most vapers have not. If you have recently made the switch to smokeless e-cigarettes, congratulations on your new hobby, and here are some essential rules of vaping that keep everyone happy:

  • You can’t vape everywhere. Most states have restrictions on vaping in enclosed spaces and public places, but even if yours doesn’t, you should be respectful of areas that aren’t your own. Always ask permission before you vape around other people.
  • You can’t vape into someone. Though vapor is harmless (as is so far determined by modern science) people don’t want clouds blown into their faces ― even if they are vaping, too.
  • You can’t vape shame. The beauty of vaping is its ultimate customizability, so degrading others for their vaping choices is just wrong.
  • You can educate others about vaping. Anti-vapers are often armed with incorrect information, and instead of getting mad, you should get teaching.

Taking Pics

Few predicted incredible advancements in cellphone camera technology, but nevertheless almost everyone is armed and ready with high-quality image-capturing pocket-sized computers. However, just because you always have a camera doesn’t mean you always have to use it.

It is disrespectful to others when you incessantly capture images; the sound and position of your phone are simply disruptive. Perhaps more critically, your attempts to document every moment of your life will ultimately be futile, as you will almost certainly never revisit all the mundane memories you have stored in your phone. Instead, you can snap the occasional pic when an experience is particularly poignant, and leave most of your meals and concerts undocumented.

Using Headphones

Headphones have been around for more than a century ― the first pair for private use were available in 1895 ― but many people still have trouble using them properly. Indeed, whenever you are in a common space, you should always be plugged in with some form of private listening device, whether it be tiny earbuds or massive cans. Those around you should never be subjected to your audio whims, even if you think your playlists are the best in the world. Still, while you have your headphones on, here are some advanced rules for listening politely:

  • You can’t ignore people. Your music might put you in a different (read: better) state of mind, but it doesn’t take you out of the world. You must pay attention to those around you.
  • You can’t shout. The volume of your audio should never be so high as to block out the sound of your own voice.
  • You can’t groove along. Singing, whistling, humming, and even tapping your fingers or feet will disturb other people, so you should quit these behaviors if you notice them.