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Etiquette to Employ when Communicating Online

You might have heard this before, “think before you speak” –It is a  common phrase from our elders that we hear as we grow up. They also advise us to say “please” and “thank you”, irrespective of the circumstances. Although we may have murmured playful expletives under our breath, but deep down, we knew that they amounted to some good sound advice.

What is etiquette?

Etiquette is defined as “the set of rules or customs that control accepted behaviour in particular social groups or social situations.” (Cambridge dictionary). Without proper manners and etiquette, the customs of a polite society would soon disappear, and members of society would show far too much impatience and disrespect for one another, which would lead to insults, dishonesty, and people acting more like animals and less like people. Aggressiveness and an “every-man-for-himself” attitude would take the lead.

The internet often plays a huge part in our daily activities; allowing us to communicate freely with others and share information with ease via messaging apps, social media and gaming networks. Before you post or comment in a personal capacity, consider the following:

1. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all (also known as “think before you tweet”).

2. Ask yourself- Is it all about me? No one likes a self-centred person, so one should avoid being boastful with compliments when posting online.

3. Avoid spamming because not everything (or even majority) of what you post should ask for something.

4. Venting and ranting may feel good, but research says that it doesn’t help, no matter how justified you feel it is. Mostly, it doesn’t present you in a positive light. Do not post negative comments or gossip just for the sake of it.

5. Read before commenting or sharing. Don’t make yourself look foolish by not fully reviewing something you are commenting on or sharing with others; don’t jump to conclusions.

6. Seek the right medium for the message. Not everything must be shared everywhere. The feelings of the other person should be considered. Some messages should be given in person, some by phone, and some through email.

7. Listen twice as much as you talk. Understand the person, organization or situation you are commenting on/about. There is a reason we have two ears and one mouth.

8. Be respectful to others. It is important to respect others’ feelings online as we all are different and view issues differently. Keep in mind the age, status, temperament and other factors of people whilst communicating. You may wish to comment on something posted online, but always remember that behind every account is a real person. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, then the internet is not the place to say it either.

9. It’s always great to share jokes with others, and it is important to be yourself online and let your personality shine through. However, be careful with humour and sarcasm because not everything is always clear online, and sometimes people might not realise you are joking. Mostly, people rely on emojis or text-speech, e.g. ‘lol’, to help show they are not being serious, but it isn’t guaranteed that other people will understand this. Reread what you have written, and rethink.

10. Most online forums, social networks and gaming networks have their own code of conduct or guidelines for a user’s online behaviour. Take time to read these rules. Every user has the right to have the same positive experience online. Use these guidelines to help guide and support you so that you know what will and won’t be tolerated on the online forum you have joined. 

11.  Mind your Ps and Qs (and all the other letters, too). If you think grammar doesn’t matter online, then you haven’t been following the countless language blogs that thrive on uncovering brand mistakes. You will make the occasional grammar mistake on a Facebook or Twitter post – most people do. If you aren’t careful though, you may soon find yourself with a reputation for lacking attention to detail.

12. Teach others whenever an opportunity arises. The Prophet ﷺ used every chance to enjoin good and forbid evil. If there is ever a need for you to say something corrective in nature, do so gently.

It is important for people to consider how their online behaviour and choices can have an impact on themselves, and on others. One should take time to ask questions and think before posting or commenting. Our social interactions may have changed, but the people we’re interacting with haven’t. Be nice, and you’ll be rewarded, Insha’Allah.

Written by: Emily
Edited by: The Editorial Team 
© The Islamic Reflections Blog


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