Being a good citizen of cyberspace is really no different from being a good person overall.
How you behave online always goes back to values. When behind your computer or mobile device, it can become easy to forget that you’re talking to real people and not computers. The screen which we use to connect with others more can become the very shield that detaches us from others. Netiquette, or the rules of etiquette that apply to communicating over computers, especially the Internet, should follow the same standards and rules one follows in real life.
For example, if it’s rude or improper to say or do something offline, it’s also rude or improper to do it online. Cyber bullying is one manifestation of this. According to NoBullying.com, an online forum that aims to educate, advise, and help stop bullying, Google Trends has shown that the fourth highest searching country worldwide for Cyber Bullying is the Philippines. The term was searched extensively in 2013, indicating how this has grown to be a concern in the country. It may look like the chances of one being caught online is less than being caught in real life, but it still goes back to the core of good values and good behavior. There is no excuse for rude and inappropriate behavior, and the Internet is no reason for one to lower his standards for good values and behavior.
There is a clear line when it comes to disagreements online. The Internet provides a vast spectrum of personalities and minds with a variety of opinions. This makes for rich discussions, especially when there’s a difference in opinions. What is important to remember is that when having a disagreement with others, stay rational. Disagree with what is being said, but avoid taking it personally and making personal attacks.
Another way to behave like a responsible citizen online is to speak properly. This means making sure e-mail messages, status updates and other forms of written communication is spelled correctly and grammatically correct. This shows how much thought and care is put behind each post.
Jure Klepic, Business Consultant and Social Media Innovator, has shared that “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas; what happens on Twitter stay on Google forever!”
Be highly aware of what you post online. Make sure you aren’t giving others the power to use your words against you. Complaining about your job online, sharing secrets about your partner, venting about your mother-in-law… social media networks may seem like great ways to unload frustrations, but do so responsibly. After writing a post, review it before posting “publish”. What is the tone of your post like? Is it the truth? Does it cause harm? Should it be shared at all? “Nothing dies on the internet” is a quote commonly heard about information online.
On the flip side, one can’t help but stumble now and then. A hastily written bad review, a quick complaint about a colleague… they may have been written at the height of emotion but the poster may have changed her mind afterwards. Instead of giving them flack for their public ranting, forgive them and move on.
Being mindful of privacy is of utmost importance online. It’s very easy to take a screenshot of a private discussion and publish it for the world to see, but that does not mean it should be done at all. A private message or e-mail meant specifically for someone does not mean it can be forwarded to someone else. Taking something that is private and showing it to the rest of the world is improper and offensive. It also works the other way: If you do not want what you say privately to be shared publicly, refrain from posting it online. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Every Internet user has the responsibility to behave properly online, newbie or not.
This all boils down to being kind online. The anonymity the Internet gives us can be liberating and empowering, but this kind of power should be used responsibly. The screen may seem like it separates from the online world, but real life and online life is one and the same.