Ever come across a rude Instagram comment on a picture your partner posted? The person who commented that probably wouldn’t say something like that to you in real life, would they? It’s no surprise that people end up being more disrespectful online, which is why everybody needs to learn a bit about netiquette.
Be it a relationship with a lover, a colleague or family, netiquette rules can help you maintain cordial relations with them online, so they don’t end up reporting you off a platform you spend most of your day on.
But what does the word mean exactly? What are the 10 basic rules of netiquette? Are they even necessary? Let’s take a look at why you need to follow basic netiquette and how someone’s online persona can tell you about the kind of person they are.
What Is Netiquette?
Before we get into the 10 rules of netiquette, let’s first take a look at what it means, so that the uninitiated don’t end up shifting tabs on this article. Netiquette basically refers to the only acceptable way to behave on the internet. Basically, etiquette on the net.
How you behave in a bar or a coffee shop dictates the kind of energy you attract. That energy being the police, the bartender, or a smile from that cutie by the counter, who’s flirting with her eyes. In much the same way, you could either get reported or get a follow request on the internet.
The golden rule of netiquette is, if you wouldn’t say/do/share something in real life, don’t do it on the internet. It’s as simple as that. With that being said, however, there are still 10 rules of netiquette that go into a bit more detail about what you should and shouldn’t do online.
Now that we’ve answered what is netiquette and why is it important, let’s take a look at if it’s okay to stalk and like your dating app match who you just started following on social media. Spoiler alert: No, it’s not okay, it’s creepy…especially if you like a few pictures by accident.
Related Reading: Online Relationship Advice – 23 Important Tips
10 Basic Netiquette Rules Everyone Should Follow
The internet is a weird place. The anonymity of it all can push people to say things they’d never say out in the open. You know the road rage you have while you’re in your car? If you took the car away and were put face-to-face with the delinquent who overtook you, you probably wouldn’t say everything you did in your own car.
The same goes for the internet. Take the screens and the keyboards away, you’d probably be a lot nicer. The 10 rules of netiquette aim to make the internet a better place, by making everyone not act like a complete douche.
Much like the do’s and don’ts of relationships, there are do’s and don’ts of relationship netiquette you should take a look at, lest you come off as a complete creep. Let’s take a look at the netiquette rules that just might change the way you use your social media apps.
1. Treat thy neighbor: Always be respectful
If you were to take away one thing from this article, take away the golden rule of netiquette: always, ALWAYS be respectful. Just as you should, in real life. Are you on Reddit with a throwaway account where people don’t know who’s behind the account? It still doesn’t give you reason to be mean to people.
Just because you’re anonymous or don’t confront the people right away, doesn’t mean your words will not hurt those who are reading them. Before you go and leave a mean comment on someone’s Instagram selfie or on something someone has proudly uploaded, ask yourself how you’d feel if the tables were turned.
2. Don’t blatantly stalk a love interest
Let’s say things are going well with someone from a dating app, and you both decide it’d be a good idea to add each other on social media. In such a case, it’s vital to follow the netiquette rules for social media: don’t blatantly stalk the person, especially not at 3 am, randomly, without any conversation.
That being said, let’s be honest, there’s probably not a single soul on Earth who adds someone on Instagram, looks at three pictures, and thinks, “Yeah, that’s it. I’m so not going to scroll all the way down to this person’s embarrassing college photos.”
While it’s okay to research your date online, the key point to remember here is to not stalk people and like all their photos so they get all the notifications. What are you, Joe Goldberg? The obsessed stalker psychopath serial killer vibes this move gives off are probably the reason why you’re going to get ghosted.
3. Be mindful of who you talk to
Just as in the real world, you can’t really trust strangers with sensitive information, the same absolutely applies to the net too. If someone suspiciously texts you out of the blue, showing a keen romantic interest in you, you might just be getting catfished.
If a Nigerian prince emails you asking for some money, it’s probably a scam. If you think you never got one of those emails, check your spam. As a constant netiquette rule for electronic communication, make sure you pause for a second before you click on that link that promises the most lucrative job you’ve ever hoped for.
Not every profile is genuine, especially if it’s not verified. Approach the internet with a bit of caution, as you would the outside world.
Related Reading: 13 Tips To Date Online Successfully And Find Your Ideal Partner
4. Don’t spam
Yes, your recent trip to the Walmart near your house was absolutely hilarious because some TikTok kid decided to do a bottle flip with a coke bottle and it broke, but don’t post a never-ending parade of stories about it.
You might be taking a million selfies in those cute couple poses, but don’t end up posting a million pictures of the two of you, just because you can. Think about it, when you have a conversation with people in the real world, you don’t end up talking for 20 minutes about one thing, repeating it over and over again and approaching it from different angles, right?
Similarly, try not to eat up too much of your followers’ time by posting a million stories in quick succession. As one of the most basic netiquette rules for social media, this might save you a lot of followers.
5. Don’t fight dirty
In the current digital age we’re in, we mostly converse with our partners over text messages. If you were to tell us you’ve never fought with your partner over texts, neither of you probably has a phone or you’re both just pathological liars.
When we fight via texts, we tend to disassociate the fact that behind the text messages you’re sending is a person you care deeply for. The dehumanizing aspect of technology, i.e., communicating through a WhatsApp chat window, can often make us say things without thinking of the consequences of those words.
You can’t take cover behind your phone and hide behind the screen as a license to say whatever you can. That’s still a human behind you’re sending those texts to, so maybe don’t send that extremely rude message comparing your partner to his/her toxic parent.
6. Be mindful of the webspace you’re in
You wouldn’t talk about the benefits of being single to someone who’s in a long-term relationship, right? Similarly, be mindful of the website/group/channel you’re in. The internet has a group for just about any kind of person, be it a right-winger, a left-winger, or those who believe in a flying spaghetti monster.
Basic netiquette rules for electronic communication tell us that you should always be careful about the webspace you’re in, and communicate appropriately. Who knows which rabbit hole that random browsing at 2 a.m. is going to lead you? Just make sure you don’t offend a whole group of people.
7. Respect the privacy of others
Did you just go on a first date with someone? Perhaps you just went out with your friends, and want to post about it online. While you do so, make sure you respect the privacy of the people you upload photos of.
Don’t give out information about your date, they might not like it. Don’t tell everyone in your followers list the address of your friend’s house. It’s known as doxing, and your date may just be inclined to get a restraining order against you if you upload a picture after the first date.
If by any chance you were still wondering what is netiquette and why is it important, it’s the reason why you’re not blocked by dates you go out with.
Related Reading: Online Dating – 8 Tips To Make It Work For You
8. Report offensive content
Being a good Samaritan is a full-time job, both offline and online. Did you notice a racist/sexist/problematic comment on your partners’ photo? Perhaps someone was rude to you on a dating app. Go ahead and report it if you think it warrants one, don’t think twice.
Just like the oceans, we can do our bit to keep the internet free of trash. In this case, the trash pertains to the trolls who hide behind their fake usernames. We’re the turtles, and the racist/homophobic/sexist/misogynistic content trolls put out are the plastic straws that hurt us.
9. Netiquette rules tell us to not spread false information
We all have a distant uncle/aunt who’s always sharing the most absurd WhatsApp forward on the family groups, telling us that 5G towers are the worst thing that can happen to us. It’s a common phenomenon, and you should do your bit to stop it.
While nobody wants to talk to uncle Greg and dissuade him from sharing his WhatsApp forwards, it’s something you should really be doing. Spreading false information ends up causing significant damage to certain people and/or groups.
10. Be mindful of your own privacy
Sure, you may have your own accounts set to private, but that doesn’t mean your privacy is guaranteed on the internet. If there’s something you’re posting that you don’t want your colleagues or your family to see, it’d probably be a good idea to not post it.
Unless you want to, make sure you don’t make things like your location, public knowledge. Oversharing on social media is a huge issue among the younger generations. Make sure you’re mindful of this golden rule of netiquette.
A few other netiquette rules you should follow: Don’t exclusively upload group photos on dating apps, don’t follow and then unfollow people to make your ratio seem cool, DON’T TYPE IN ALL CAPS, don’t follow people like Alex Jones, and don’t order food from a restaurant 5 minutes before they close (just don’t, the staff will all hate you for it).
Jokes aside, we hope you can now answer “What are the 10 basic rules of netiquette” and that you’re now a model citizen, both online and offline. Most importantly, we hope your dates don’t end up freaking out over your stalking episodes. In other words, look but don’t tap.