Tech Etiquette: With New Technology Comes New Responsibility

By Stacy Leighton

Technology is evolving at lightning speed. Baby Boomers like me remember life without technology. Answering machines and cordless phones, remote controls for the television and Atari Pong – THESE were ground breaking tech advances back in the day. Now I subscribe to trending newsfeeds just to keep up. I like being able to access infinite information and getting more done in less time, but not at the expense of human interaction. With a little tech etiquette I think we can maximize tech’s benefits without minimizing our relationships.

Cell Phones

If you are on a call in a public place, please don’t shout, use “g” rated language and be mindful of your surroundings.

Sometimes you need to disconnect in order to stay connected. Anytime you are working, waiting at a cash register, driving, or value the people you’re with, put your cell phone on vibrate. You can even change your voicemail to indicate you will call them back later.

Wear a watch. Even checking the time on your phone will make you appear distracted. Be selective. As tempting as it is to view our phones as an appendage, it is not, and this frowned upon by payroll.


Emails seemed to have replaced formal business correspondence. That’s great as long as we remember the three F’s: Form, Function and Follow Up.

  • Form: Remember the business letter model? Do that. This is: a simple succinct subject line, formal salutation, professional content with proper punctuation and formal “leave-taking” (ex. Yours truly, + your full name)
  • Function: Emails are often used for sharing group information or reiterating conversations. They should not replace, but augment, face to face or phone conversation. This is especially so if it is important, because it is hard to pick up on “tone” in an email and the message could be misinterpreted.
  • Follow Up: Just because you sent it doesn’t mean they got it. A follow up phone call is good practice.


Employ the 10:30 rule; our voicemail greeting should not exceed 10 seconds and the messages we leave should not exceed 30 seconds. For messages, include your name, purpose of the call, and your number. Don’t forget a polite leave-taking, such as “Hope you have a great day” or “I look forward to hearing from you”).

If someone takes the time to leave a message, be polite and listen to it before returning the call


Take off CAPS LOCK – it is considered shouting and no one likes it. And for the love of Mike, no more group texts. These will blow up your phone for days.

Adopt the Twitter text rule: if your text requires more than 144 characters, by all means, call the person.

One more word to the wise, sending 6 consecutive texts that complete one sentence will get you blocked.

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube posts are more permanent than tattoos – they can’t be erased. You can try to delete it, but it lives on in cyber space. Forever. Post with that in mind.

Permissions and policies change, so check these every few months. If you are concerned about who can see your Facebook posts, for example, at this time you can go into settings and change it to “friends except acquaintances.” Those you want to avoid but not “block” or “unfriend,” change their status to “acquaintance” and they will be none the wiser.

Every time you post on Facebook you can change your audience. I would suggest also hiding your friends list and adding the security setting that requires your approval before allowing posts by others to be added to your timeline.

Employers and others who are vetting candidates will find a way to look through your most candid online moments. This has become a standard operating procedure. Limiting your audience and being careful with your public persona is the best defense.

Technology has opened our world to infinite possibilities, let’s use it wisely.

“…Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”     ~Agent K (Men in Black)