“There are people who are realizing that online communication is the wave of the future,” says Don Knezek, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education. It’s time we talk about the English we use online, it’s also important to brush our conversational skills on the internet.
From email to chat messengers to blogs, these days, everyone is communicating online. Understanding how to interact online safely and effectively in English is, and will always be important, but does anyone really talk about it? Does anyone teach us the same?
Time is changing and it’s important to keep few things in mind while communicating online:
- Begin messages with a salutation and end them with your name. (Email conversations)
- Use a signature at the end of a message. (Email conversations)
- Acknowledge and return messages promptly.
- Be concise. Keep messages to the point.
- Restrict profane or rude language. Avoid “flaming” (online “screaming”) or sentences typed in all caps.
- Check grammar and spellings.
- Do not use abbreviations and short forms, professionally.
- Keep your messages to the point and keep discussions organised by adding to a relevant thread.
- Don’t be in too much of a hurry. Spell check your message before clicking “Post” and try to proofread for other errors.
- There’s a lot of evidence online, avoid using abusive language, gossip, nicknames, profanity etc.
- Think before you post a blog, be careful not to hurt someone’s sentiments.
- Be careful when using sarcasm and humour. It can easily be misunderstood as a personal attack. If you are being humorous, try to include smilies/emoticons in your messages to express such humour. They are very useful for letting people know that your comment is friendly.
- Use words in brackets, such as (grin), to show your state of mind.
- Use appropriate emoticons while chatting.
- Use common acronyms which are usually understood.
- If you are responding to a particular person address your post to them. You can use @ followed by their name (applicable to a group chat).
- Avoid sarcasm. People who don’t know you may misinterpret its meaning.
- Respect others’ privacy.
- Don’t send spam messages.
So, keep these things in mind and avoid posting in anger, stop and take a break, make a nice cup of coffee, maybe a milder message would be more effective. Think about what you have written before you post it, that’s a plus when it comes to online conversations, you don’t have to reply instantly. If you absolutely have to disagree, do so politely. You should be sensitive to the others’ feelings and opinion. So, reply to the argument, not the author. It’s the world wide web, so respect other’s opinions. Be tolerant of other people’s mistakes. Not everybody knows the rules of conversational etiquette on internet, not everyone is posting in their native language, so be patient and remember, we were all once a newbie. It’s very important to be careful online with English, because it has nothing to do with the tone, we cannot see or hear people behind the screen. So, be careful with English and keep your best foot forward.