Netiquette — is the emerging etiquette standards: the rules of conduct and communication on the Internet, in social networks, forums, mailing lists.

Netiquette varies from community to community. The first norms were developed in chat rooms, computer bulletin board systems and forums. Today the most widespread spaces are social networks and messengers. These became the spaces of day-to-day communication of many people, and consequently, such discussion platforms are the inventive setters of the well-defined informal rules of interaction. You also should be aware of the special rules of gadget and service behavior: for example, when using Google Glass (your companion needs to be sure that you do not use covert surveillance) or FourSquare (mayorship at your home will not hike up your estimation in front of your network friends).

Netiquette is different from the cell phone etiquette. To take one example, in England of stationary phones times, it was common practice when answering the call, at first politely introduce yourself and your phone number, and then ritual required, “Excuse me, who am I speaking to?” For modern means of communication, a similar protocol is only being born. For instance, at the beginning of the phone conversation people can enquire “Where are you? Are you free to talk now?” Or else, before making a call, you can send a warning SMS. You are not likely to see people asking such questions when texting via messenger. We kind of keeping open person’s options to reply at once, but at the same time we expect to get that instant response, and some even take amiss if they don’t.

Here are some examples of netiquette articulated by the social networks users:

  1. Everybody can leave the chat at any time without notice or explanation. On the other hand, some users find it very impolite to leave in the middle of conversation without saying goodbye.
  2. The online status tells of the computer being on, but not of the user’s readiness to communicate.
  3. Once read a message, should answer. So, if you don’t have time to answer, just leave it unread, to respond in a more convenient time.
  4. Only short interval between the receipt of the message and the reply (up to one day) is acceptable, so that the idea that you are dumping the other person wouldn’t shot into their mind. But for all that, messengers imply a faster response than the email does.
  5. To start a dialogue with the single “hello” and wait for an answer is regarded ill-mannered, to say the least.
  6. The reply should be detailed; otherwise people would think that you do this only to get rid of them.
  7. When referring in a social network to a link of some vague content, it is better to attach a personal comment.
  8. If you “like” or comment on every post of your network friend during long time, you risk seeming obtrusive or over-annoying.
  9. There are two types of attitude to the network friendship. The people adherent to the first type will accept your friendship invitation without hesitation. For them, being network friends does not require personal acquaintance. They use their friend-list as an electronic notebook, or as the news feed. Others do not add those people who they do not know outside the social networking service. You are very likely to get from these users the short reply such as “Who are you?” or “What?” And you are definitely not obliged to answer it.
  10. The effect of leaving verbose comments expressing personal opinion on the stranger’s page is neither to invite understanding nor to strengthen the contacts. You have only to write as if you went out and left the door open.

The audience effect — the impact of other people presence on human behavior. When expressed in the public transport or in social networks, the statements increasingly gain criticism, but simultaneously their sincerity lowers and creativity runs out.

“The days of you having a different image for your work friends or coworkers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly…. Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
“There is Tanya for her family, for her friends, there is Tanya in the sight of God, and there is her real self . And Tanya should have one identity — then everything will fall into place. Tanya should be all-in-one.” Archimandrite Ioann Krestiankin

Despite Mark’s assurance, the kind of information person shares and the way he behaves depend on social group. While the kernel of personality stays the same, the degree of openness, sincerity, interest area, and even a way of speaking are diverse. People will speak to their diary, colleagues, and friends in different manner.

In social network every self of a person is given a single communication channel. Usually, this leads the society-oriented way of communication to victory.

Reference group impact

With the growth of subscribers people start to subject their words to criticism, and to size up impact of these statements on their reputation. This may bring back a more thorough content. The downside of publicity is that person begins to adjust their statements to the desires of the audience. This may turn their words into phoney acting. The person says what his reference group wants to hear. The author is afraid that one dull post will ruin the trust of his subscribers, or even make them give up reading his notes.

Networkwide that drives masses to get obsessed with one topic and act like bots. For example, some express their one-sided either criticism or praise of the government actions. On an individual scale this limits the freedom of expression. There is an extreme case of the audience effect: when because of the presence of just one person in the user’s friend-list, this user brings their network activity to naught.

Writer Lev Lure said that the most prolific state of a writer is his appeal to nowhere, into the void, being desperately lonely. In a state of despair, when there is no hope that someone will ever read this. It was at this instant that creative fire is born, because, as you know, no one can please the emptiness.


As social networks stretch, audience effect can lead to a deprivation of self-expression. If this is the case, you can reconsider your lifestyle and find new vistas opening up for your creativity. Another option is to create anonymous profile.

Journalists and bloggers of NYT are prohibited from checking on their articles statistics, i.e. how many people have clicked on their articles. This constitutes the newspaper’s philosophy — to provide readers with professional opinions not heading for the reference group. It is worth bearing in mind when the next time you will be going to chase after the “likes”.

Network hangover — situation when a person decides to have a break from the network interactions with another particular person after a period of active communication with him.

After a period of active network relations people may stop to “like” and comment on the posts of the other person, recede for a distance and terminate all social interactions. The motive behind this may be getting bored or attention switch, and unique network behavior feature. This feature is that people avoid being perceived as uncalled-for, omnipresent, echoing and applauding every word of the person. Person takes a step back, keeps their distance and restores status quo and independence.

Attribution error — incorrect understanding of words and motives of other people in a world of network communication. The error is explained by the overwhelming majority of the written word over the Internet and the impossibility to give body signals.

Attribution errors occur due to the reduced sensation on the Net. Psychologists have long been worried about the difference between face-to-face conversation and distance communication, e.g. letters, telegrams, telephone calls. Communication becomes impersonal and indifferent when lacking nonverbal cues, context, and tone which are part and parcel of the personal contact. We attribute all imaginable meanings and intentions to the written word, guided just by our state of mind.

Social networks communication turns it into challenge to interpret even a smiley. Is it a warm smile or scoffing laughter?

This feature forces users to mark their messages with more signs expressing emotions. Smileys, stickers, emoji are the mediums of our feelings, which take on the role of our emotions transmitters.

This phenomenon is reflected in the network jokes: “You were not honoured a smiley in the message — you are despised”, “Once we tried it on the Internet not to put smileys in messages for a day, and ended up having quarreled with all our friends.”

Communication stiffness

Network behavior resembles the behavior of people with Asperger syndrome. People with this disorder experience severe difficulties in nonverbal communication and limited ability of empathy towards their peers. Such people have weaknesses in understanding irony, humor and shades of meaning, although clearly follow the logic and coherence of thought.

This feature makes people inflexible when communicating on the network. Where in normal conversation person may have kept silent or switch the conversation, on the Internet people began thump their chests. This feature, for example, causes people to retort rigidly to the comment without having it broader. As a consequence, the space for contemplation inevitably shrinks and people get too stiff.

For example, as correctly says Leonid Bershidsky in his book «Ремесло» (Russian edition, eng. “The Craft”), in the comments to the article, people usually reply only to the last paragraph of the article, as if still writing the text for a partner in conversation.


Add some smileys when writing your personal messages, express distinctly the tone of a text and use images to convey the feelings and thoughts.

I’m getting old, the twinkle in my stardust is fading like a birthday candle. I remember the time when a friend told me about a lecture he’d just attended, it was a time with no personal computers and no mobile phones – yes, such a time actually existed, I was born in that time. My friend told me that the lecturer had said “In the future, there will be two kinds of people, technocrats and technopeasants,” Well, here we are in the future (a future sadly bereft of hover scooters) and I guess that prophetic lecturer was right. I had chosen to be on the side of the technopeasants because I figured that the world of theatre, “to which I am shackled like a boozer to his bottle, a dogged gambler to his game…” would not be impinged upon by the technological revolution. Well, I was wrong and the reason I was wrong is because the technological revolution has gotten rid of the actor and replaced him with an uber-marionette of cosmic proportions – it has changed the mind of man – it may be that we are no longer able to “hold a mirror up to nature” as creative artists but that the quantum and intra worlds of meta-linguistics are actually dragging us by the ego into the whirlpool of narcissism, where we are being devoured by vicious metal sharks and turned into bloody chum – until that is the human voices of digital detox wake us, “and we drown.”

Martin Cooke
Artistic Director, English Actors International