The internet is a great way to grow your dance circle, knowledge, and social contacts. However, the ease of use can also make it easy to forget that there is a person on the other end of your communication and that posts to fora and social networks are public. Here are some reminders of belly dance n’etiquette to keep interactions pleasant and respectful.
* Be cordial. Just because you are online doesn’t mean you have to abandon courtesy.
* Don’t send anything that you wouldn’t want the wrong person to see. It doesn’t have to be a naughty picture. Even an email can be easily forwarded to a friend who forwards it to another friend.
* Put on a lovely face. Show people only the best side of you. Don’t get ugly, bullyish, mean, or petty online. Remember that belly dance is a small world. Everybody knows EVERYbody. When you talk about that performance that you hated last weekend, someone was there that loved it. You don’t have to share every thought you have with strangers.
* Send group emails only to people who need to know what you are talking about. Sending random information to your whole address book is annoying.
* Keep your personal information private. The internet is NOT secure. By all means, don’t send other people’s information out over the internet.
* Don’t write in all caps. It’s considered yelling.
* Don’t add your address book to your newsletters or social groups without their permission. There is nothing more irritating than getting things that you have no interest in.
* Before attaching ginormous files to your emails or signatures, ask yourself if the person receiving it wants it. This could hog up precious bandwidth space and put you on the “banned” list.
* Don’t be a cyber bully. I am sometimes shocked at how some people get so horrid when behind a computer screen when they would never do that in a face to face situation. Remember that there is a PERSON on the other end of your communication.
* If you are going to swear, keep it to places that are semi-private and that accept this type of talk. Norms are not the same everywhere. For example, it may be perfectly okay to swear in your house, but you might not want to do it at work or at your mom’s dinner table. Same thing on the ‘net.
* If someone breaks the rules, assume they are new and don’t know. Not everyone is intentionally rude.
If online gathering places are ugly, hate-filled, combative, competitive places where people one up each other or put our heroes down, they will cease to be meeting places where everyone (new and old) can learn. I’d hate to see that happen. So, how about contributing to keeping the internet a safe, welcoming place?