I received a request through an online group for messages to share with young people about “common sense” knowledge. If you have something to share, you can do it through this link. Here is what I said about electronic communications:
When conversing with others online, say only the same things you would say if you were standing in the physical presence of that person. Too often we forget that there is a living, breathing, feeling person receiving our message on the other end of our online communications. If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online.
To reinforce this mindset, I encourage people to never comment anonymously. Use your real name whenever you post. If you are embarrassed to have your name associated with what you are saying, chances are that people don’t really want to hear it either.
Finally, don’t be drawn in to mediating difficult dialogs through email or other means, if you can possibly speak about it in person. When you have something important to say, and you are uncertain of how it will be received, don’t be a chicken! Ideally, say it to their face if you can, or at least make a phone call about it. Chances are if the news is difficult, it will be better received in person or by telephone than it would be through an electronic message. E-communications are very tone-deaf, and it is all too easy to misinterpret the motives of the sender when you have other ways to communicate that might be better.