• Dr. Vin

Online etiquette from a Boomer Lost in Tech Space



My daughter is a millennial and as a non-tech savvy Boomer, I totally rely on her when I get lost online. This week she invited me to a book party (like Tupperware) where participants join an online event on a specific date for one hour. I started off okay but then there were layers of videos popping up, products to view, shopping carts, comments to make and follow, incentives and prizes. It was nonlinear, unlike following one road you could take a side road and return. To go back to the main road (page) you could hit F5 to refresh. So I ended up watching some video on new baby books. When I got back, the main class was on video ten, and I hadn’t seen 5,6,7,8, or 9 and I thought I had missed out on some parts because I went to the wrong place. I got so stressed out that I called my daughter. She reassured me that all was well, that there was no time limit and that I could see anything at anytime. I felt relieved.

So, I had gotten lost in a new-fangled online virtual campus. I get lost going places in the real world too, like driving the downtown streets of a city. But a GPS that talks to me calmly while I drive gets me there most of the time. GPS’s as well as computers, cell phones, and I-Pads have made our lives much easier in many ways.

But which format - instagram, twitter, email, facebook, messenger, skype, text, a live visit, a phone call - do you choose for which type of communication?

I think there needs to be an awareness of etiquette in online communication. Here is an excerpt from my upcoming book: Breaking Through, Communication Tools for Being Heard and Getting What you Want (available 2018 at vincentiaschroeterphd.com).

A Few Quick Notes on Digital Etiquette:

These days people are figuring out when to text, email, call, video chat or see someone in person to communicate. There is no doubt about it, the digital world is changing communication habits. There are no hard and fast rules for digital etiquette, however generally, the more you worry about being misunderstood, the more personal the contact should be. So, consider how high the stakes are in each situation before choosing your communication device.

15. Digital Communication Levels:

Though we may not think about it on a regular basis, within our digital communication there are levels of personalization. Let’s examine a few of them.

  1. Least personal: email and text. (Why? Since there is no voice prosody, it is not good for emotionally laden communication due to the many chances for misunderstandings).

DON’T email or text when emotional content of communication is crucial.

  1. More personal: Calling by phone has voice; video chat (online view and sound) has voice and the person’s facial expressions.

  1. Most personal: In person (in-vivo, live) is the most intimate and best for subtle communication nuances. It affords the best chances for spontaneity. It is the only method with an opportunity for physical contact and for maneuvering in the same physical space. When you want to have a personal talk about something important, you should request that all screens be turned off.

Let’s apply these communication tips to my recent on-line book party: A phone call to my non-stressed millennial, where I could hear her reassuring voice was the right type of contact to help this stressed out Boomer chill out and drive better down the digital superhighway.


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