Sex & Relationships

Manners in the new digital era

Manners in the new digital era


Twittering and texting are taking over our social lives. So what are the rules – and pitfalls – of this new digital era?

June Dally-Watkins has been the high priestess of Australian etiquette and deportment for 50 years and, quite frankly, she’s appalled by the state of things.

Sick of being knocked in the street by people too involved with their iPhones and Blackberries to watch where they’re going.

Appalled by men wearing sunglasses to evening functions.

Mortified by MasterChef judges holding their forks incorrectly and “shovel in” their food. Even, God help us, on Junior MasterChef, where they should be setting an “example”.

“Me, me, me, me, me! Nobody exists but me!” June despairs. “They are involved with themselves. They don’t really communicate with other people. They’re constantly texting or on Twitter and that’s not face to face, that’s not eye to eye.”

Not that she’s stuck in another era, mind you. June just thinks all people, particularly Generation Y, need to be more considerate. And she believes there is definitely a way to navigate the digital age and keep oneself nice.

Digital etiquette rules:


Answer emails and telephone calls within 24 hours.

Provide a brief introduction if you want to “friend” someone on Facebook and your identity isn’t apparent to them.

Sit the whole family down to dinner a couple of times a week and teach children proper table manners.

Open doors for people, particularly your superiors.

Let other cars in when you’re in traffic.

Send a text message to the parents of a newborn rather than phoning.


Speak/text/Tweet/email on your mobile phone in company.

Be seen to “call-screen”; it’s obnoxious. If it’s inappropriate to answer your phone, call back as soon as you can.

Wear sunglasses indoors or at a meal.

Use capital letters in emails or texts – it’s the equivalent of shouting.

Use “emoticons” in business correspondence.

Post mundane status updates on Facebook or Twitter. Nobody cares if you have just had a cup of tea.

Take more than 12 items through the supermarket express lane.

Your say: Do you think new technology is making people ruder? Tell us more at [email protected]

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