Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Learning my tetiquette

Tetiquette [t,eti'ket] - noun: Following acceptable rules of social behaviour regarding cell phone, e-mail, and social networking, particularly when interacting with someone face-to-face.

Okay, so this isn't a real word. But the concept should be! My co-worker came up with this term (combining "technology" and "etiquette", or maybe simply "texting etiquette, though it could encompass so much more than that) when I was lamenting some particularly rude and inconsiderate behaviour from a person with whom I was recently speaking. In my case, this person completely disregarded the fact we were having a conversation (and it happened to be during an interview) and they, instead, played with their phone the entire time. Now, I really wouldn't have minded a couple of taps on the phone here and there. Maybe it was really desperate and needed a response asap. But for all I know, this person was playing brickbreaker, or at least having a very extended conversation via text message, as, in the entire fifteen minutes, I think we only made eye contact once.

Maybe I'm out of touch -- is this the new way to interact?

You see it everywhere: people with their eyes glued to their cell phone screens, bumping into you on the sidewalk and glaring at you as though you weren't watching where you were going... or almost running their car over a pedestrian because their conversation was too important... you know what I mean.

I think there needs to be an established "tetiquette" for people who cannot seem to come to their own conclusions as to polite behaviour (or just have no clue as to how rude they're being).

1.) If it's a face-to-face conversation, pocket the phone. It's thoroughly frustrating to try and have a conversation with someone when you're not sure if they're listening. I fight the urge to ask "sorry, but would you like me to call you instead? Perhaps we could carry on our conversation that way."

2.) If you're in the customer service industry, don't be a gum-chewing-mouth-breather. It's a lovely little term we've been using lately for those individuals behind the till who would much rather smack their gum, breath loudly, and text to the other cashier than ask you for your Sobey's card. (Imagine: *smack, smack, smack* *DEEP SIGH* "Anything else?" [whiny voice]) I know it's an inconvenience to have to work for your paycheck, but I'm pretty sure daddy doesn't want to pay that texting bill you've been racking up at work.

3.) Don't flood the other person's inbox! My phone makes a rather loud "ding" when I receive a text message. It's a fun little sound and means someone wants to talk to me. What's bad is when I hear "ding"... "ding"... "ding".... and this person is sending two or three word text messages over... and over... and over. (Oh, and the forwards? Those weren't welcome when e-mail came out... neither are they welcome to my phone. I promise, you won't die if you don't forward the text message, and if you do, your crush won't come kiss you at midnight. That's a little creepy to think about anyway.)

4.) Take time to respond properly. E-mail, text, Facebook message, whatever it is, a very short, curt response is difficult to decipher true meaning from. Especially in a professional environment, but even between friends, a cryptic e-mail with a two sentence response can appear very rude. In a text, it's not necessary to say "Hi _____, hope your day is going well. Here's what I have to say back to your text"... but in an e-mail, it needs to read a bit like a letter. Without something of a greeting at the beginning, body, and an ending, your two sentence e-mail response that reads "Come at 8. Bring a salad." actually reads "I didn't care enough to type out a full response"; "I'm annoyed with you for some reason unbeknown to you"; or "e-mailing you was an inconvenience." That's especially true if it's in response to a longer e-mail that someone has put care into typing out.

5.)  Use abbrev. with care, and sparingly. "Hey ppl idk if i can 2nite, sry" just gets annoying. "Sorry not sure" actually uses less characters.

6.) Adding a little bit of casual emotion is more than welcome, but not in a professional e-mail. If you insist on using two sentences to respond, at least put a :) at the end to indicate it was said with a smile. Adding an "lol" to the end of a sentence is great if the meaning can be construed in two different ways, and using little asterisks to indicate an action (*said with sarcasm*) clarifies the meaning without over-explanation. But for goodness sake, don't put an "lol" at the end of your e-mail to a potential employer! They'll lol you right out of that job. :)

7.) Let the other person know if you're not going to respond. Have you ever come back to your MSN Messenger (if anyone actually uses that anymore), Facebook chat session, or blackberry messenger to find four or five messages going, "So, what do you think?" "Are you still there?" "Hello?" "Okay, well I guess I'll talk to you later..." If you do need to pocket the phone, use the bathroom, or take a hiatus from the conversation, use a quick "brb" just to let the person know you can't respond for a moment. It's always appreciated.

8.) Don't respond with "lol". That's a clever little opt-out of a response. If I send you something you think is mildly amusing and you have nothing to say back, please don't use three letters to take up an entire text message. I'm sure if you were smart enough to catch on to my humour, you're smart enough to think up something a little more creative. I'd just term that L-A-Z-Y.

So, what do you think? Do you have any "tetiquette" suggestions? Do you think I'm way off the deep-end and should really just clue in to how the world of technology actually works?

1 comment:

  1. I think we've lost what reality is in society today. Driving down the street, I saw two friends sitting together -- great; spending time with a friend. But no, each is buried in their phone, texting someone. Who knows ... they could have been texting each other. I was turning a corner today in my car and almost got hit by a pedestrian, walking along in a daze, unaware of the curb she crossed as she sent her all-important message. Technology has a place, but it isn't real life. Real life has real people in it.