The World Wide Web, or Internet, or Online, or Cyberspace or Virtual World, has truly created an environment to change or alternate ourselves – sometimes to become more aggressive, assertive, bolder, somewhat sexier, and certainly more efficient in our communication standards.
In a new book titled “Virtually You, The Dangerous Powers of the e-Personality” [W.W. Norton & Company] by medical doctor Elias Aboujaiude, Director of OCD Clinic at Stanford University, he brings to the forefront some serious observations and concerns about our virtual personality. He explains it this way: “The way we see and evaluate ourselves is changing as a function of new personality traits born and nurtured in the virtual world. These include an exaggerated sense of our abilities, a superior attitude toward others, a new moral code that we adopt online, a proneness to impulsive behavior, and a tendency to regress to childlike states when faced with an open browser.”
This fascinating observation is quite real. As he states, this combination of actions creates a “whole new you”. The most challenged aspects of this insightful observation [also supported by numerous research studies] is the way we, when online, “act, interact, speak, read, think and negotiate urges and goals that are remarkably different from the ways in which we handle these same activities offline.”
Some of this new “you” behavior, protected by anonymity in the online world, has led to a set of Internet bullying, bound only by how quickly a person can type an insult, allowing the ‘writer’ a sense of new empowerment to engage in cruel outbursts that would violate their sense of decency in the real world. By simple example, though maybe not as common, email exchanges can also be marked by a blatant lack of “courtesy and respect”, even if a person is a model of etiquette in the offline world.
How many of us have friends that “curse” more frequently in the online universe or never include a warm-greeting or signoff. This lack of warmness is not triggered by anonymity—we know who they are. They just don’t think warmth and manners are necessary or even needed in cyberspace.
So the question arises; is there a need to create an online ‘rules book’ that puts in full perspective what needs to be the cyberspace ‘do’s and don’ts’ of what will be acceptable when communicating to others? Whether it is through email, texting, voice video, or anything new coming to life, becomes the ‘rules & regulations’ in how we work, play and grow our user base in the online universe.
We are not looking to suggest a sense of damaging regulation, or a hand cuffing of our freedoms as to our use in the online universe. But there certainly needs to be some truly defined protocol that directs users to be respectful to others by beginning to realize that at the other end of your messaging is a real person with a sense of personal respect, personal accomplishment, personal honor and personal emotion. That it is not some online Avatar created to be a person to play games with other likeminded players [….although Dr. Aboujaiude book goes into considerable detail on how compulsive people have become in building entire new online “you personality” that has gone well past the electronic gaming world], but someone who you can or might meet in person—that you may get to know well or really well in the offline world. Or if it is someone you already like or possibly dislike, the online protocol would pave the path in giving you guidance as to the proper sense of on what is the appropriate ‘speak’ in cyberspace as you begin to engage any person […in whatever online dialog you create and then press the send button].
An interesting face: There are rules and regulations in place that effect how one uses all other message mediums—TV, Radio, Newspaper, Magazine, and the like.
Cyberspace is the one remaining message medium that does not have any rules and regulations in personal or business ‘message exchange’ sense to equip one to fully understand and respect what is acceptable online behavior when reaching out to others in the virtual world.
Maybe now is the time to set this in “d & d” effort in forward motion before governments, politics or some other dreaded online watchdog [think Iran, Asia, and other territories that are aggressively monitoring/controlling online access] become even more aggressive, taking away many rights and privileges that we take for granted right now.
If we were to set a universal ‘Common sense messaging language of the Internet’ for all people to respect and use in a smart, positive way, this might work. Or maybe it might not. But it is certainly worth a try.
Things to Ponder About Virtual Behavior:
We all recognize the “good” in cyberspace. But we must not take it all for granted right now. Can we set a new tone, a discipline for us to all be more mindful of our collective psyche as Dr. Aboujaoude points out, yet to realize what we have created, both the good and the bad, and in some circles, the very bad, and to become a lot more self-conscious of what we are doing when we send a message to someone— how it is being interpreted and what is the ultimate response of that message.
If we are intending to create harm or damage a person’s belief in something important to them, is there another way to communicate this idea or message in a constructive and ‘helpful’ way as opposed to being overtly ‘negative aggressive’ or a ‘bully’ who does not know any better?
Here are some of the questions that comes to one’s mind when you think about World Wide Web language etiquettes
- How could a truly defined ‘do’s and don’ts’ be constructed in a simple-to-use tome that would be easily and quickly accepted by the masses?
- What would be the top ten  or top twenty  rules that needs to be addressed and adhered too?
- How would one go about initiating this new protocol so that everyone agrees to abide by these SSO rules?
- How quickly that this be enacted and presented to the World Wide Web?
- How does one monitor this effort?
Feel free to add other questions, or create your own and present your thoughts. Having a guide book or simple rule book that maybe has ten  to twenty  guide points that everyone accepts and follows in cyberspace could be a very positive game changer for placing more etiquette online for us all to use and respect. And, quite honestly, being called out if one does not follow this “d & d” guide point.