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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Internet Etiquette: "No Snarking" PLEASE!

Seriously, Folks, Anonymity is a Dangerous Illusion

I read a commentary by the New York Times' David Pogue entitled "Whatever Happened to Online Etiquette?" At first, I began to respond to David as a lark - a sense of levity to assuage my dismay:

Ah, it’s so sad. I would like to create a logo: the word SNARK with the red circle-and-slash depicting "not allowed".

Yep, anonymity is probably a major factor in rudeness. How often have we driven like cutthroats, expressed our rage by finger or horn, then become mortified by the fact that the object of our scorn is a neighbor or friend? Ooops! Not so anonymous, are we?

But then I realized, wait -- this is a real issue. As I've said before in these pages, "Internet behavior is public behavior", and "the Internet is forever"... I've talked about it in the context of this first-generation of Internet parents raising their kids. But the reality is that adults need to learn the same truth.

Anonymity on the Internet is only a thin, illusory veil. In the end, it can be ripped away by a friend, a colleague, a technical error, or poor judgment on the part of some faceless organization (recall AOL’s leak of its users' search behavior in August of this year). And then, lo and behold, all our online excesses come home to roost.

Really, the Internet would be more enjoyable, illuminating, and refreshing if folks were civil and clear, with penetrating commentary instead of obnoxious, gossipy expressions of schadenfreude.

We desperately need to teach our kids good manners, both person-to-person and on the Internet. To use an old but very accurate aphorism, "It's for their own good!" We need to lead by example, of course. Our kids will inherit a better world, and will each be much less at risk, if common courtesy, thoughtfulness, and care take priority over attitude, aggression, and put-downs.

In the end, enlightened self-interest strongly suggests "No Snarkiness".

Have an opinion? Think we should start a movement with the logo? Comments welcome!


  • One of the most prevalent means of modern communication is electronic mail (e-mail); the ability to send messages from one person to recipients via the computer. This media has been widely abused and misused with the largest blame going to lack of information of things to avoid when using email. There are things that people do while using this facility that drive the bulk of the recipients up the wall. There are hundreds of does and don'ts hence in this article I single out a few crucial issues pertaining to email usage. I have used emails for over a decade. This is one of the best ways to communicate but like any other facility, it is subject to abuse and mis-use. Abuse has always been seen to come out situations where purpose of the facility is unclear. Email is with us for some time to come hence there is need for users to practice etiquette so that everyone using it enjoys doing so.

    By Anonymous Email Etiquette, at November 09, 2010 3:21 AM  

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