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Technology Etiquette 101

. Posted in DCE's Blog

When West Tennessee Presbytery met at our church, I heard about an interesting situation. One of our people who was passing the offering plate during worship said that an individual sitting on the end of a row was engrossed in texting, reading email, or something and had no awareness that someone was at the end of her row trying to give her an offering plate. Finally the CPCG usher handed it past the woman to the person sitting beside her. The usher was laughing, but still perplexed by the behavior.

That made me think about what is proper etiquette in 2013. After all, Emily Post never had to deal with these kinds of situations.

We all know that sometimes things don’t go perfectly. We mean to send an email to someone and input the wrong address. We leave out a word and it changes the whole meaning. We sometimes get preoccupied with our technology. Of course, we’re not alone. How many Congressmen have found themselves in awkward situations by their use of technology?

Using our Gadgets

  • Be conscious of where you are.

Ever been in a waiting room and had someone drone on and on about something private? Maybe you felt like you were eavesdropping or maybe you were angered by the insensitivity. It’s best not to take personal conversations in public.

  • Be sure your friends are more important than your Smartphone.

If you’re having lunch with a friend, be in conversation with him/her and not engaged in texting or taking calls. Obviously an emergency situation is an exception.

  • Know when to leave your device off or at home or hidden in your car.

Sometimes those decisions are not so clear-cut, but it is important to think this way.

  • There are times not to text.

A few of these times are during dinner, at parties, in meetings, during worship, while driving.

Social Networking

  • Don’t share anything private.

This should be fairly obvious, but it’s best not to post photos or status updates that you would be uncomfortable with certain people seeing or reading.    

  • Behavior offline and online should be polite.

Act like you would face to face. Remember that you are communicating with people and they should be treated with respect.

  • Reach out to friends.

One of the upsides of social networking is keeping in touch with friends. When they post a concern, such as a move, a family death, etc., it is good to respond to them.

  • Don’t be stressed by trying to follow and friend everyone.

To some degree this will depend on the network.

Video Chat

  • Try to prevent technology glitches.

Check your system before your conversation with others.

  • Call from appropriate locations.

Take into consideration your physical surroundings.

  • Try for a natural experience.

Look at the person to whom you are speaking. Also, engage the person instead of being distracted by scanning updates, etc.

Recently I had a family member who was dying. She had a granddaughter and great grandson who lived in Maryland and could not be here for the five-week process. However, they Skyped her; it was a wonderful way to stay connected. Technology allows us to be in contact in ways that were previously impossible. As we navigate this new territory, maybe the Golden Rule can be operative. Or, another way to think about it is that we are engaging people and how does what we do affect others? What do you think?

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