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Online Etiquette: Why Being Accountable, Responsible and Honorable is a Good Thing

If you cannot say something nice, then don't say anything at all. How many times did your mother tell you that growing up?  I am Southern from the tip of my head to the end of my toe. I believe in good manners, using china and crystal, dressing up every day, lighting candles, handwritten notes and being nice to everyone! That being nice part includes the social web. I've always thought of Facebook, Twitter and all the others as online communities within themselves. In a community or village you build each other up, and help those in need and share information, provide positive feedback and answer questions.

It took a village to help us with Michael so I know how important community is. Yet for some reason there are people that have very poor etiquette online and whether it is from provocation, inebriation or just plain stupidity, they think that the internet allows them anonymity and they can say and do things they would normally never do. These individuals and groups think they will suffer no consequences or face any repercussions; NEWSFLASH that is 100% inaccurate. I tell Collins, Michael and SJ each and every day "what's done in the dark always comes to light." We need to think of the implications of everything we say and do. Every word you put on the social web is permanent. Deletion is no answer. Your potential employer, future client, or new friend could see what you have posted any time down the road.

Remember "a card laid is a card played" and something on the internet is forever. Michael calls the people that just sit there and talk trash to everyone they encounter "internet gangsta's" I call them idiots. Don't ruin other people's online experience. It is ok to dislike or disagree with people, but don't be rude and nasty. Think of your hand as a weapon when it comes to the internet. You are using your two hands to communicate with the online village and when you hit that send key think... "Have I used proper etiquette?"

Remember do not use inflammatory language, do not make tasteless comments, and don't send inappropriate pictures. So many people think there is no accountability on the internet but I have seen firsthand just how damaging insults and accusations can be from the unknown names and faces on the internet. It can have a detrimental effect on not only the ones being talked about but the ones doing the talking.

Apparently, many do not think about the possible consequences or ethics and values. Use basic common sense, think first before you type and always take the high road. Those steps are always practiced in our household. I believe in the richness of expression and valid criticism is fair game but your posts can be polite and your tweets can be supportive and not so destructive. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Just be nice! Call me old fashioned but be honorable, accountable and responsible. People will respect you whether they agree with you or not.

So share your thoughts and opinions with others, listen to those that are different than yours but always preserve your dignity. Your character and integrity are so important, they are hard to acquire and so easy to lose. Just remember to treat others with kindness, think of that community, that online village, always add value to it and be nice. Someone once said that the power of nice is extremely powerful and I agree! Revert back to those preschool days when we were taught, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." It's just the right thing to do.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @LeighAnneTuohy and play #TuohyTrivia on Tuesdays for a chance to win a $25 donation to the charity of your choice for answering the question correctly. Learn more about my family's charity at The Making It Happen Foundation.

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