Social Etiquette

I remember as a child, sitting with my brothers watching Thunderbirds or Star Trek and I remember thinking how cool it was that they could communicate in ways other than the telephone. The best we had as kids was two tin cans joined with a long piece of rope which we used as a ‘walkie talkie’.

And I remember my brothers and me speculating about whether or not they would invent video phoning in our lifetime (although we didn’t know it would be called that).

I grew up in the days where you had to book a ‘trunk call’ in order to speak to someone abroad. So the idea that you can speak to anyone, more or less anywhere in the world at the touch of a button is, when you think about it, amazing.

I was talking about this with an old friend a couple of weeks ago, and we reflected on how modern technology has turned our brains to mush. We don’t need to remember telephone numbers anymore, we don’t know people’s addresses, most of the time we don’t even know where our close friends live. I know where my sister lives but I couldn’t tell you her address, or maybe I know the street she lives on but not the post code (and that was before the onset of menopause brain)

Some of us will remember fax machines, and I remember the good old telex machine.

 At 6th Form college we had to dial Imperial College to connect the computer so we could do our programming.

 I remember feeling a bit freaked out and overwhelmed the first time I had the internet at home (in the nineties). That was dial up too.

Now it’s just there, we don’t have to do anything, it’s just there.

Modern technology has brought us amazing new ways to communicate with hundreds and thousands of people if we want. With one message I’m saying good morning to at least 80 people I was at school with on WhatsApp. All I have to do is point a camera at myself and press Go Live and I can produce something that thousands can view.

People of my generation and older have had to catch up with these changes which are being driven by the so-called Millennials and younger, and we’ve done well to stay part of the game.  But are we playing by the same rules and is there an etiquette to modern communication and social media?

I wouldn’t dream of sending a text message to someone who isn’t family after 10pm but what’s the cut off for WhatApp?

Or Messenger?

I don’t have my telephone in my bedroom because the ping ping of messages will keep me awake. Even though I’ve muted most of the notifications the rogue ones do get through. I have contacts in different continents so we have the time zone issue to contend with too. Sometimes I wake up in the morning with literally hundreds of messages to read. Not directed at me personally but at a group of us. The problem now though is that a large percentage of those messages are pictures, videos, jokes and long tales that our friends received and want to share because, well they’re our friends.

Each group and form of communication creates it’s rules as they go along.  Basically, we wait until something irritates us, we mention it in the group, someone agrees because they’ve been thinking the same thing and waiting for someone else to raise it. Another person, thinks it’s okay and we should live and let live, then someone leaves because they think the objection is being directed at them (it is) so they’ve taken it personally. Someone else persuades them to return and we all agree to cool it on the photos, videos, jokes and long tales. It goes quiet for a while, until it slowly starts to build up and you find yourself again having to spend each day deleting tens of photos and videos because your phone can’t function otherwise.

But does all that matter so much in the grand scheme of things? Nearly 40 years later I’m in contact with and have developed friendships with people I knew only by sight, if at all, at school. In a way I couldn’t have without social media.

Over the last year or so I’ve made great friends from all over the world and worked with amazing groups of people who I am able to keep in touch with. Which I couldn’t do without the aid of social media

My extended family is able to discuss plans for family occasions or just chat almost in real time.


For all this we can put up with a few unwanted photos and videos - right?

I’m not sure.


There doesn’t seem to be any universal rules around acceptable use of social media, well not at the moment. I daresay in years to come all of this will settle itself down – I hope it will, much like the circulating of email jokes settled down all those years ago – I guess they just moved to WhatsApp.


Anyway, I’d better go - I need to get deleting before my phone crashes - again.



Do you have any accepted or private rules about Social Media?


Then comment below.

Taiwo Dayo-PayneComment