This is not another post about online safety. Instead, this time I’m talking about road rules, or ways to make the internet a better place for everyone. There are a few behaviors I think kids need to learn as they make their way into the interwebs. And to be honest, every one of the points below is on my list because I know a few adults could use these suggestions, too. I’ll put down my smartphone an hour early for the next week for every reader who can run through these points and honestly say he or she can’t see him or herself in any of them. I’m safe, aren’t I?
- When writing an emotional and/or important email, fill out the “To” field last. This will save your butt when you are furious with a friend or colleague. You vow it’s the last time you’ll let yourself be treated that way and you fire off a few paragraphs so hot they make your computer sizzle. Or, over the course of two hours, you draft a careful cover letter for a job. But then you rethink your words as you write or you’re not quite satisfied with the letter, but the cat walks on the keyboard and…oh, crap. You realize you never should have sent that email. If you hadn’t filled out the “To” field yet, you wouldn’t have.
- Should you really, REALLY use “Reply All?” The teacher sends out an email asking which families can make it to the class picnic on Friday. Or the manager wants to know who will be at the staff meeting. Suddenly a tidal wave of “Joey will be there,” or “Sorry, I’m having a root canal,” times thirty similar messages floods your inbox. Why? I don’t know. But I do know this: just because an email goes to a group, the answers don’t have to go to the whole group. Stop before you hit “Reply all” and ask if everyone really needs to know the information you’re sending, or if it only needs to go to the person who asked the question. Let’s try to cut down on litter on the information superhighway.
- Remember that no one can hear the inflection in your head when you write.